How soon is too soon to take AP courses?

Published on November 14th, 2011

By MICHAEL ZAHN

“Hard-working,” “diligent,” and “studious” are three adjectives thought to describe Advanced Placement (AP) students. The rigorous, college-level AP courses mostly comprise juniors and seniors at FLHS, as earlier years are considered less consequential on a high school transcript. However, the current policy at FLHS allows any student who is qualified to take AP classes.

AP underclassmen are most often found in AP math and science classes, as there is usually a group of gifted math students identified in elementary school that starts middle school math one level above other members of their grade and continues at that higher level through high school, making them eligible for AP math and science classes as sophomores. Occasionally students who speak another language at home take an AP class of that language before they reach their senior year, as well.

Should sophomores be allowed to take AP classes typically designed for juniors and seniors?

While it may seem preposterous to those who see sophomore year as a time to slowly transition to the heavy workloads that come with being an upperclassman, many sophomores feel they are just as entitled to take AP courses. Sophomore Kevin Warten, who is currently taking both AP Statistics and AP Chemistry feels that certain AP courses are acceptable for sophomores.

“Stat and Economics should be offered to sophomores because their prerequisites can be achieved by the time a student is a sophomore [by taking] …Algebra 2,” said Warten.

Junior Taylor Van Fleet agreed with Warten that if students have completed the classes required to take an AP class by the start of their sophomore year, they should be encouraged to do so.

“[Taking AP classes as a sophomore] should be allowed because it gives [students] an opportunity to start getting used to harder classes,” she said.

Some students, like senior Jordan Filipowich, argue that AP classes should be reserved for upperclassmen.

“It should be a thing which only upperclassmen have the right to,” he said. “I am taking AP [Modern European History (MEH)] because I am intrigued by history, but also to gain some advantage for college.”

Senior Emma Sweet has taken her fair share of AP courses, a total of six classes, but all while she’s been a junior or senior. Sweet advocates a similar academic path to underclassmen.

Students study for an upcoming AP exam.

“APs shouldn’t be offered to sophomores, unless those sophomores have exceptional intelligence,” Sweet said. In sophomore year, students are still getting accustomed to the workload and expectations of high school classes… AP classes are absolutely more strenuous than my other courses. The work load is significantly greater, and the tests at times can be very, very difficult. For that reason, I would say students should only take APs if they are truly invested in the subject, because otherwise the workload won’t feel like it’s worth anything.”

Warten agreed that APs are very rigorous, but he believes certain courses should be offered for all sophomores, regardless of the challenge.

“AP is definitely more strenuous, time consuming, and difficult than my other courses, no doubt. I spend most of my homework time either studying for or doing the work for my two APs. Aside from the material, the pace of APs is at a level I haven’t experienced in any other class I’ve ever taken,” said Warten.

While there is no doubt that there are underclassmen capable of doing AP level work, some sophomores feel rushed or pressured to take these classes too soon.  Although some sophomores may be ready to take on a more demanding course load, many are still trying to get used to high school, which may prevent them from truly excelling in an AP class.

 

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