As students begin to finalize their 2019-2020 class schedules, I find myself answering endless questions regarding the classes I’ve taken, and my thoughts on them. To save some time, I figured I’d write about the difficult classes I have taken during my high school career.
Freshman year is for the most part obstacle free. The only thing that gives most freshmen trouble is Biology. Whether you take Honors or CP, people tend to have a difficult time. With the level of academic rigor in the middle school seeming to be on a decline, students come into freshman year without really knowing how to study. Over my years of studying and tutoring, I find that the trick is a very well kept secret known by the teachers as “the textbook”. While I was guilty of textbook skimming just as many other freshmen before me, I have found that reading the actual chapter, answering the book questions, and studying Quizlet is enough to get one through the class.
Sophomore year was more difficult for me as I decided to take Honors English, Honors Chemistry, and AP Biology. Though the textbook tends to do the trick with chemistry much like it did with biology, chemistry is more difficult because it consists of more application and less memorization. Mr. Gregorich’s patience, passion for teaching, and depth of knowledge made chemistry a breeze. I recommend Honors Chemistry to anyone who feels like science comes easily to them, or those not so comfortable, but willing to pick up the book.
My first AP Biology test was also the first test I ever failed. AP Biology was no joke. Mrs. Macdonald was tasked with teaching a group of hooligans some very in-depth biology which was very different from the simple memorization of Honors Biology. This was also the first year I was introduced to “Mastering”. Mastering Biology is an online compilation of biology practice that is tedious, and plentiful. Had it not been for the help of Jennifer Lamb, many of my classmates, myself included, may not have made honor roll. AP Biology is no walk in the park. I recommend the class to anyone who found honors biology less than challenging; It also helps if you are able to appreciate and reciprocate Ms. Mac’s banter.
Honor’s English II with Ms. Martineau was a great experience. The class kept us busier than I had expected but allowed us to explore and analyze literature. With fast-paced social media conditioning us for a quick reward, I find that students are victim to ever-shortening attention spans. I recommend Honors English to students who have the attention span to read, and the drive to do plenty of group work on your reading.
When Junior year rolled around, I decided to take AP Chemistry, AP Lang, and AP US History. AP Chemistry was much more difficult for me than AP Biology. While biology is all conceptual, chemistry is full of application. Mastering Chemistry was absolutely brutal, especially if you are a habitual procrastinator like myself. However, it was against all odds among my favorite classes in high school. The difficulty of the class meant that only those who excelled at chemistry and wanted to be challenged found themselves in the class. I will reiterate that Mr. Gregorich is like wicked smaht. With a good group of kids and a teacher who knew what he was talking about inside and out, the class was a great time. I recommend AP Chemistry for students who are up for a challenge and found Honors Chemistry intuitive. It is not for the faint of heart, but the brutality of Mastering was overshadowed by a great group of people to do it with.
AP Lang has some pros and cons. While the reading was a little more boring than the literature I was used to, Ms. Edzwald really knows how to prep you for an AP Exam. The class also teaches you how to effectively persuade your reader which is an extremely valuable skill. Like all high-level English classes, you have to be willing to do the reading, but the class was not as difficult as I had expected it to be.
APUSH has recently undergone a change in management, so I don’t have very much relevant feedback to give regarding the class. As someone who has no affinity for history, I found that as far as AP Classes go, APUSH is pretty easy. If Henry Dupont can pass the AP Exam with a general disinterest in U.S history, anyone can.
Senior year is kind of brutal, but as long as you get started on college applications early and fend off senioritis to the best of your ability, you should make it out OK. This year, I decided to take AP Literature and AP Calculus. AP Literature is difficult, but it is an absolute gift. During senior fall, reading Crime and Punishment while grinding out college applications is absolutely murderous. However, Ms. Phaneuf is so insightful and passionate about literature that the reading is most definitely worth it.
AP Calculus, much like AP Literature is difficult but doable. Over the year you are tasked with mastering the entire Khan Academy AP Calculus AB Mission which consists of 163 different skills. You only need to master a handful of concepts in order to succeed in Calculus, and Dr. Williams does a great job of turning hooligans into elite mathematicians. Procrastination is not your friend in AP Calc, but I would recommend the class to anyone who can easily apply new mathematical concepts well.
The bottom line is that AP Classes are tough. Colleges like to see rigor, but doing poorly in an AP class looks far worse than doing well in an honors class. I decided to take a handful of AP Classes, but I got into the same colleges as people with fewer AP’s than myself and people with more. Take the AP’s that interest you, and skip those that don’t.
By Henry Dupont