Advance Placement courses give high school students more opportunities

Worthington High School
Worthington High School.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

WORTHINGTON — Worthington High School (WHS) is committed to academic excellence for all learners. By offering Advanced Placement (AP) courses, students are provided a college-level experience while still attending high school. These courses help students develop critical thinking skills, discuss intelligently, and exercise analytic writing across the disciplines.

I joined the Worthington High School teaching staff in August 1994. At that time, WHS only offered AP Psychology and AP English Literature, taught by David Copperud and Ellen Copperud, respectively. However, this was one of the reasons I chose WHS. AP has been a staple in many American communities for decades. I loved that WHS also saw the value in offering students these courses. In this area, AP was a rarity.

Since my first years, WHS has added more AP courses for students: Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, English Language and Composition, Environmental Science, Human Geography, Music Theory, Statistics, U.S. History and World History. Currently, due to a variety of factors, we offer AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP English Literature, AP Human Geography, AP Music Theory, AP Psychology and AP World History.

Students who enroll in AP courses learn the college-level content and are prepared for a national exam given each May. The exam is typically comprised of multiple choice questions and free-response questions (short-answer questions, long-essay questions and/or document-based questions).

Students receive a score of 1-5 based on their performance. Colleges and universities then decide if their score qualifies for college credit. For example, a student who earns a 4 on the AP Psychology exam will likely earn four credits from their college. Most state colleges and universities in Minnesota accept scores of three, four and five to receive college credit.


Each year, WHS students enter college already ahead of many of their peers with college credits earned through their AP exams. Imagine receiving a passing score in AP Human Geography, AP World History, AP Chemistry, AP Psychology, AP Calculus, AP English Literature and AP Music Theory. Each of those courses could earn a student three to five credits, depending on the score received and guidelines of the college.

Here are links to a sampling of Minnesota colleges and universities, and their AP equivalencies:

Bemidji State University:

Step 3: Transfer Credits

Gustavus Adolphus College:

Minnesota State University, Mankato:

University of St. Thomas:

A student could potentially earn more than a semester’s worth of college credit while still in high school and still being challenged with high rigor courses. In addition, students can take AP exams in Spanish (among other languages) and with a three, four or five, earn a World Language Seal and Certification (


What is the benefit of taking an AP course at WHS? Beyond providing academic challenges that enable students to succeed in college and beyond, AP students are more likely to receive scholarships at their chosen college and graduate from college in four years. In addition, taking an AP course in high school is viewed as prestigious by higher learning institutions as it provides distinction during the competitive application process.

The culmination of AP coursework at WHS will happen soon, as AP exams are administered nationwide in May. Over 50 WHS students are preparing for one or multiple exams. Although the exam is not mandatory, some AP students decide to take the course to experience the college-level instruction and testing. Students who opt to test will receive their scores in July. The AP scores demonstrate to colleges that students have done college-level work in high school; colleges will then award entry-level credits for higher test scores.

Here is a link to the College Board to help you begin your search of the benefits of AP, and determine if this is the best choice for your son or daughter: .

Worthington High School is fortunate to have a long-standing tradition of support from teachers, administration and staff for our AP Program. WHS is a leader in southwest Minnesota for its commitment to academic excellence and pursuing the best options for our intellectually curious students.

Sam Goldsmith is the AP Human Geography and AP Psychology teacher at Worthington High School.

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