• Albert Matthews

An Inside Look at AP Classes


AP Language students working hard in Ms. Aiken's class



You’re in the guidance office. You listen to your counselor talk about classes you can take, and you hear them mention AP language. You have no idea what it is, but are convinced by the 5-point GPA boost. Then you hear from your friends that AP (Advanced Placement) classes are extremely hard, and become very worried. Well here I am, explaining what AP classes are, so you can have an idea of what to expect inside an AP class.


First, in order to take an AP class, you have to meet certain requirements. Usually it’s just to take supplementary classes before it, like for AP calculus you must take Algebra 1 and 2 along with trigonometry, geometry, and math analysis (which is just pre-calculus). Personal requirements, however, are a different case.


“Any student can take an AP course. You have to bring in the attitude and work ethic that goes with stretching the envelope on your education,” said Mr. Zahraoui, AP calculus teacher.


Now, you have to learn about the subject that is being taught. Usually the guidance counselor can give you a very brief overview of the class, but going to the teacher and asking what the class is about is helpful.


“We do a lot of linguistics because that's my background, and recognizing how language influences the world,” said Ms. Aiken, the AP language teacher.


Next, you need to know how AP classes work. AP classes have a curriculum they have to follow and standards students have to meet. They don’t have the ability to debate from these standards set by the College Board, a country wide organization that creates standardized tests and the curriculum for AP and college readiness classes. This is unlike an actual college course, where the professor guides you on what's happening on tests and such.


“A college course follows the lead of the teacher. Whatever the professor tells you is what happens. They have the luxury of being able to emphasize things and de-emphasize others. In AP, we cannot do that. We have a curriculum and standards that we have to meet throughout the year. There's no leeway,” said Zahraoui.


Here at Churchland, students also have the opportunity to take dual enrollment classes at TCC. What exactly is the difference between the two? In dual enrollment, you go and take actual classes available at TCC and can get college credits just by passing the class. In AP, however, you must pass the AP exam in May with a certain score in order to get the credit for the class. It is known to be very hard, with very few people passing with a 5, the highest score you can get and what most colleges will accept.


“If you only want the credit, dual enrollment is the better option, while AP is more about what you are learning in the class than getting the credit, as it's more like a bonus you can get,” said Aiken.


AP classes are really just experiencing what a college class will be like in high school. They put higher expectations onto you to not just learn, but understand a subject. It also prepares you for actual college and even real life and its expectations.


“It requires work and perseverance. I encourage anyone to take an AP course to see what kind of rigor is expected of you anywhere else,” said Zahraoui.