How difficult are APs at Wilson?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Avery Dunn

Throughout the month of March, freshman, sophomores, and juniors all sat in their history classrooms contemplating what classes they should take next year. As these students listen to the standard speech from the guidance counselors, many pondered whether or not they should take an AP class next year. Some students have heard about them through their upperclassmen peers, while others go in blind, pressured by their parents. Although many Wilson students take APs, the difficulty of the courses is not entirely clear. I interviewed five students to find out how hard different AP classes at Wilson really are.

AP Spanish Literature: This is one of the lesser known APs, comprised of only 30 students. Many students take this class after AP Spanish Language, wishing to further their study of Spanish. When asked about the difficulty of the class, Senior Ilana Samuel said, “I think it’s pretty difficult, it is a lot of work outside of class, you have to do a lot of reading yourself.” On the topic of student success, Samuel said, “There are definitely a lot of kids in my class who are failing, it is really hard [to manage the workload], It is definitely my hardest AP.” This class typically gears to kids with advanced Spanish language skills.

AP World History: This class is one of the most popular APs offered at Wilson. Many students take this AP during their sophomore year. The AP World curriculum spans 10,000 years, so this course is very fast paced. “[The workload] is pretty intense. We have notes every night, and the [in class] SAQs (short answer questions) are pretty hard,” said sophomore Emmett Patterson. When asked about student success, Patterson said it is very difficult for most students to keep up with the workload in order to succeed in the class. 10,000 years of history in one school year is no easy feat, and this class reflects the rigor of the course material.

AP US History: This is one of the core APs available exclusively to juniors. “It covers a lot less material than AP World, and most students find the workload a lot more about keeping up with the notes yourself,” said junior Emma Younger. If a student has trouble understanding the notes, “We review the [notes] we did in the textbook over the weekend in class. It’s a good balance of work both in and out of class,” she added. This class is manageable as long as you complete your homework on time and come to class prepared.  

AP Environmental Science: This is another well known AP that is only available for seniors to take. This class is for anyone interested in the effects of climate change, pollution, and resource use, as well as studying the environment on a challenging scale. According to Senior Charlie Thompson, “In APES it’s not that hard to manage because Dr. Moore really spaces out the work throughout the year.” One big challenge of APES is the out of class assignments. “We have to do recycling, and some math quizzes out of class. I feel like a lot of kids get behind on this extra work,” Thompson said. APES is a serious commitment but it is vital to learn about the world we live in.

AP Physics C Mechanics & Electricity and Magnetism: This AP course is arguably the hardest course you can take at Wilson. It is the last and most complicated level of the AP Physics courses, and it requires at least some previous knowledge of calculus. “If you focus and organize your time efficiently it’s manageable, but it’s still a lot of work,” said senior Bless Tumushabe. AP Physics C is a very challenging course, and every period is difficult. However, Ms. Benjamin “is always there to help us if we have questions,” says Tumushabe. The course is also creatively taught, with labs, lectures, and projects. This course definitely requires a love of math and physics, combined with a willingness to work hard.

AP Calculus AB: This is the the slower-paced AP Calculus course that is offered at Wilson. It covers one semester of college calculus. “I would say the workload is manageable,” said junior Madeline Kessler. “It does get stressful right before a quiz or test, just because the content itself is hard.” Kessler said that many students understand the material, however, it is difficult to make up work when you miss school. “If I’ve missed a day or two of school I feel like I’m way behind, especially if I’ve missed the first day of a new unit.” Overall, the material can be complex but the workload is feasible.

Each individual AP course has its own pluses and minuses, and each one is unique. Before you take an AP class, make sure you are willing to put in the effort and manage the workload that is required to succeed in that class.