By Raveena Basra
If the month of May has taught Advanced Placement (AP) students anything it’s that the school code is 050982 and Chicago is a city. But in all seriousness, these courses have also taught us a great deal of patience, organization and that procrastination really can come back to haunt you.
Picking and choosing which AP classes to take is where the stress truly begins. Therefore, I have decided to offer my two cents on the few AP courses I took at Clovis West that will hopefully be of some help. Yet, keep in mind that these reviews are solely my opinions and at the end of the day it is on you to decide which classes you would like to put yourself through.
AP Biology, Avants
When I took AP Biology, it was a small class of around 20 ambitious kids. Perhaps there would have been more students if not for the intimidating summer packet. Once you are able to get through the summer work, the class itself is not too bad.
With over 40 chapters to cover, you don’t have time to slack off if you want to pass the AP exam. However, College Board will cut out some of the content in 2013 so that might help. Still, I advise following your own study routine and staying ahead because you will not cover all of the material in class. But if you do happen to miss a few chapters, then get a Princeton Review book and cram.
For those more concerned about getting an A than a five on the AP exam, don’t worry this class should not crush your Valedictorian dreams. But for a little bit of security, I would recommend participating in Science Fair for it adds a hefty boost to your grade.
AP World History, Kisling
AP World History may be the first AP class you take at Clovis West and it is certainly a wake up call. The course features an established routine of homework, class work and weekly tests that always keep you busy but prepared. During the week, students create a handwritten outline of the chapter, note cards of key terms and answer study questions in class. Yes it’s a lot of work, but it’s the same format every week so you can finish everything well before Friday.
There will be a few below average scores on tests, especially the first one on the summer work, but don’t panic. There are plenty of tests and points put into the grade book so a bombed test here and there won’t destroy your chances at getting an A.
Since this is many students’ first AP class, I advise all of you to be prepared and not go into the class thinking you can get by like you might have done in your previous classes. It is more work and studying but will prepare you for future AP classes.
AP Calculus BC, DenHartog
AP Calculus BC is one of the toughest AP classes at Clovis West but it is also one of the best taught. I am someone who sometimes is not too fond of math, but Mrs. DenHartog definitely made my experience worthwhile. She balances the rigor and tenacity of the class with lighthearted banter during notes and is always there at lunch and sometimes before and after school to provide help. Nevertheless, the class is hard.
Expect one to two hours of homework every night and a busy day in class spent taking at least two pages of notes. However, you can look forward to the math competitions, the end of the year “teach the class” project and most likely passing the AP exam because no matter how much you may think you are not prepared—you are.
Calculus BC is actually one of my favorite classes I have taken because by the end of the year you really feel like you have accomplished a great feat by getting through the course. Plus, Mrs. DenHartog is an amazing teacher.
AP Chemistry, Hunter
I do not have much to say about AP Chemistry other than if you love science then it’s the class for you, but if you don’t, stay away. The class tests your knowledge, tenacity, effort and attention span. Hunter uses powerpoint lectures about and labs to teach and assigns about an hour of homework each night. It is better not to put off reading the chapter because along with all the concepts to cover, one must also master how to do the math. Overall, it’s your typical tough science class but if you are able to put in the effort then the class is worth it.
AP Composition, Melocik (Boone, Deffenbacher)
AP Composition is definitely a class I would advise juniors to take advantage of. Mrs. Melocik does a great job at prepping her students for the AP exam by providing year round test practice. By the end of the year, you will have written so many essays that you probably won’t want to write again for a while. But, an elevation in your writing is guaranteed.
Downsides of the class include too many graphic organizers and readers notebooks, you will find out what those are, and a lack of fictional content. Nonetheless, you should go into the AP exam feeling very prepared and enjoy a fun and creative documentary project at the end of the year.
AP United States History, Hawkins (Rocheford)
AP United States History is another one those over 40 chapters classes like AP Biology, but the class is tougher. I definitely appreciated Mr. Hawkins dedication and care to preparing our class for the AP exam but there is only so much you can do to make the Industrial Revolution sound interesting. If you are a junior and want to lighten your schedule a bit, this might be one of the classes you could consider not taking. But if you are willing to put in the time, then by all means take it.
AP Statistics, Berg
AP Statistics seems to have a reputation of being an easy math class. Well let me dispel that notion quickly—it’s not easy. Though not the caliber of AP Calculus BC, this class can take you by surprise with its heavy emphasis on concepts and terms rather than traditional math problems. Mr. Berg administers cumulative tests, which include problems on the current chapter and the chapters before, so cramming is out of the question.
On the plus side, you barely ever have homework because there is plenty of time to finish it in class and the content is short so you are finished with the book well before April and have plenty of time to review for the AP exam.
AP Government and Politics, Oliveira
AP Government is definitely the popular kid among the various AP classes. This year six class periods were offered to fit all the seniors that signed up for it. With that in mind, I would still advise adding it to your schedule. For one, it’s a nice boost to your G.P.A. because receiving an A is not too difficult. Also, with a presidential election on the horizon, it may be one of the most interesting classes you take.
Nonetheless, most of the time government and politics are far from exciting and you will find yourself staring at the clock fighting to stay awake. But once that second wind kicks in, you’ll be able to participate in class discussions and develop a stronger view on our nation’s government, making your time in the class worthwhile.
AP Literature, Williams (Hawkins)
Mr. William’s AP Literature class has been one of my favorite classes I’ve taken at Clovis West. If you are an avid reader with an admiration for literature then this class is a must. But even if you despise books, I would still recommend this class because out of the many stories we read you are bound to like at least one.
Other than reading, the class also emphasizes poetry and passage analysis, an appreciation for art and class discussion. Homework and class work is manageable along with the tests. Grade killers can be the multiple choice practice tests but you have opportunities to improve your scores on them. Mr. Williams also provides a comfortable and entertaining environment for his students by telling the occasional story, singing songs with his guitar and organizing an “Art Appreciation Day.” Another advantage to taking this class is that Mr. Williams provides vocabulary lists and assigns essays geared toward college and standardized test preparation that are extremely beneficial.
Overall, this course is filled with learning, laughter and tears from laughing too hard. It’s definitely a class you do not want to miss out on.
AP Psychology, Anderson
AP Psychology is a class very similar to one you may actually take in college. It is strictly lecture and reading based with a lot of independence given to students in regards to preparation for the AP exam. But that is not to say that Mrs. Anderson does not prepare her students well—because she certainly does. When you are not taking notes, you will be partaking in class discussions and interactive activities that really help students understand and learn psychological concepts, rather than just cramming the material and forgetting it the next day. The course itself is very intriguing and you will find yourself asking many questions, most of which Mrs. Anderson has the answer to. The class is challenging so getting an A might be tough. However, I certainly believe it is still worth taking even if it adds a small blemish to your report card.