Which AP classes should you be choosing?


Amanda Swartz, News Editor

Whether you load up on AP classes or take two, like me, there is a noticeable difference in the amount of work expected of students between standard courses and Advanced Placement. I am extremely happy to be taking the two APs I am currently in: Environmental Science (APES) and AP English Language … shout out to Ms. Hunt and Dr. Chon. Maybe I am spoiled with wonderful and thoughtful teachers, but I also believe I made the right choice in choosing classes that I am genuinely interested in.

While I have never taken an AP that is not a course on something I am excited to learn about, I can imagine being miserable in a class that requires so much time and you are not keen on knowing more information. For example, APES is a big commitment because students are expected to take the time to study if they wish to do well in the class. I find it easier to succeed, however, because when I am reading the textbook I usually feel like I am learning extremely valuable information on how our earth’s ecosystem functions.

I do not like standardized tests. Some people excel at sitting down for hours and bubbling answers–I am not one of those people. Sadly, I did sign up for taking two standardized AP tests when I committed to my classes. I am not necessarily a huge advocate for complaining about something like standardized testing, which I know will not change in my foreseeable future. But I do believe that the AP test in May is not an accurate measure of how successful you are as a student.

Success to me in an AP class looks like this: asking for help when you are confused, commiting time to a class, improving throughout the test results, and making an overall effort to be better in a course whether that means raising your grade or being an active listener during lecture. This is not to say these tasks are easy, but in my experience, Viewpoint’s teachers genuinely want their students to succeed. Every teacher I have had at this school has been open to having conversations with me about how I can make improvement.

For example, I solely prepared for my first APES test by reading the textbook and PowerPoint once, and I did not do to well. After speaking with Ms. Hunt, I learned the value of diving into the textbook for each chapter. Once I did, my grade shot up. APES taught me how to thoroughly learn from a textbook. This textbook phenomenon goes to show that AP classes are designed for outside learning, and relating back to my previous point: it is easier to learn something at home when the topic interests you.

Lastly, I want to bust a myth: a student taking more AP classes does not mean they are a better student. The truth of the matter is that people often load up on APs, get overwhelmed, their grades drop, and they struggle to stay afloat. Taking a balance of courses that you, your parents, and your college counselor really think you can do well in is a much smarter strategy than taking a class with a name that you think makes you “look smarter.”

College level classes are difficult, but they are worth taking in moderation in order to challenge yourself and receive practice for the four or more academic years most of us have after graduation.