A Classy Review: Students share experiences from courses with stressful reputations


Charlotte Rooney, Opinion Editor

They’re the classes we all hear about — the ones with crazy homework, impossible curricula and teachers who expect perfection. Despite common misconceptions, these students say the classes aren’t as difficult as they expected.

AP Biology a.k.a. AP Bio: Nick Williams

Senior Nick Williams had heard AP Biology had really long labs but a well-liked teacher.

“A lot of students like [science teacher Azie Taghizadeh],” Williams said. “She understands young students and jokes around while teaching us.”

He said the homework load is pretty extreme but he knew that going into the class.

“If you take all the homework from my other classes, excluding AP Bio, and add it together, it’s still less than the homework I have for AP Bio,” he said.

Williams said the homework can either be easy or really difficult.

“Half the time the information and homework is really hard to get through,” he said. “Other times it’s pretty doable — either you get it or you don’t.”

AP Biology is definitely one of his hard classes,Williams said.

“After what I heard, it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it’s still pretty difficult,” he said.

Teacher Response:

“I would hope that students don’t have anything super negative to say about my class,” Taghizadeh said. “I think they would say it was difficult and that I have high expectations.”

AP Statistics a.k.a. AP Stat: Ricky Chen

Senior Ricky Chen hadn’t heard terrible things about taking AP Stat before he enrolled in.

“I actually heard it was really easy,” he said. “I heard that [math teacher K. Dean Snell] was nice and pretty chill. People told me [Snell] doesn’t have hard tests but he has a lot of quizzes.”

Snell rarely gives out homework, Chen said.

“If he does assign homework, he’ll usually give time in class, and the homework is easy,” he said.

Chen had heard from multiple students that the class was simple but said there are some surprises.

“The class was a little harder than I thought it was going to be,” he said. “Even still, AP Stat is one of my easier classes.”

Teacher Response:

“I think initially, because AP Stat is so different from other math classes that students have taken, it looks like it’s going to be very easy,” Snell said. “It is a rigorous class, and it is difficult. Students don’t realize that it’s going to be a challenge.”

AP United States History a.k.a. APUSH: Sydney Anderson

Junior Sydney Anderson initially signed up for regular U.S. History but soon decided it wasn’t challenging enough for her.

“I think I learn more when I’m challenged,” Anderson said. “When a class isn’t easy for me, it makes the information more interesting.”

Anderson said APUSH doesn’t require as much homework as she thought it would.

“We have to find primary sources and are expected to finish review guides, but that’s pretty much it,” Anderson said.

APUSH students with social studies teacher Clark Winslow have a test after completing each unit, but the score isn’t taken for a grade.

“We only have three test grades that count toward our semester grade — our quarter final, the semester final and a research paper,” Anderson said. “It’s nice because all the questions on those two major tests are from previous tests, so it’s easy to study for them.”

Anderson said the class isn’t difficult because she has been learning about U.S history since she was young.

“It’s just going deeper into the information,” Anderson said. “I think it’s really interesting.”

Teacher Response:

“If you have a strong work ethic, AP classes won’t be hard,” Winslow said. “If your work ethic slips, and you get behind in your classes, that’s when AP will get hard.”

AP English Literature a.k.a. AP Lit: Maddie Coole

Senior Maddie Coole said she had heard AP Lit prepares students for college and for the essays required for college admission.

“At the beginning of the year, [English Language Arts teacher Linda Eagleton] kind of throws you to the sharks,” she said. “By the end, you can write really great essays. I already feel that my essay writing skills are getting better.”

The amount of homework depends on what the class is working on, Coole said.

“If we have a book due in a couple days, then everyone is scrambling to get it read and perfect journal entries,” she said. “If [the class] has lit terms or vocab, then the homework doesn’t take a lot of time.”

Coole said Eagleton is known for having high expectations but said she likes her.

“She’s really sassy and knows what she’s doing,” Coole said. “She has a passion for what she’s teaching, and that makes the class interesting.”

Though Coole said she second guesses herself in class, she still enjoys the subject.

“I wonder if my answers are good enough or if I’m at the level I’m supposed to be at,” Coole said. “The class isn’t about a certain number of questions you can get right — it’s really about learning to think in a certain way.”

Coole said she had heard from past seniors that the class was going to be challenging, but she learned she didn’t have anything to worry about.

“I made myself much more nervous than I needed to be,” she said. “If I take a step back, the class isn’t that bad.”