Sanah Clar , Class of '23

Have you seen overly stressed students around campus that are deprecated of sleep and seriously in need of a coffee? Students all around West Park have begun cramming, going to review sessions, and overall stressing for the grueling tests to come. That’s right, it’s AP testing season, every AP student’s worst nightmare. 

Advanced Placement, or “AP,” is a highly regarded set of classes offered at many high schools for high achieving students seeking college preparatory courses. These courses are designed to be fast-paced and made to prepare students for the exam given in May for the individual AP courses. At West Park, we offer many AP courses from math and science, social sciences, english, and even spanish language. With this variety of courses comes concern, especially from underclassmen deciding which courses to take and which to avoid at all costs. 

First lets begin with the basics. AP courses have a wide range of benefits. Whether it be college prep, credits towards a college education, GPA boosts, or any other reason, many (if not all) students can find adequate reasoning as to why they should take an AP course. Christopher Hodge, the AP coordinator at West Park and AP Statistics teacher, has had a long history with AP courses and brings experience and knowledge regarding the high level courses. 

“I think one of the biggest reasons students should take an AP class is that it will help prepare them for college…the classes are more fast paced and have more context than a typical high school class,” Hodge stated. 

He went on to say that, “students [must] learn how to become more reliant on themselves and how to manage their schoolwork and their social life which is [an] experience they will need going into college.”

With these educational and future benefits that AP classes provide, there can also be an overweighting con for many students wanting to pursue AP courses, which is the AP Exam itself. 

Hodge stated that, “Yes, AP classes can be a lot of work, but feeling the success of passing an AP test, after putting in all that hard work, is a feeling every student should have. I encourage all students to find an AP class that is in your favorite subject and talk to the teacher.”

Overall, the benefits of taking an AP class can be substantial, especially if the student is in pursuit of a college degree after high school. At West Park, we have an amazing staff of AP teachers who are willing to speak to students that are inquiring about individual AP courses’ pros and cons, as well as counselors who can help to decide what courses will be best for the student. 

One concern that constantly is asked when discussing AP classes is which are the most difficult. When asked this, Hodge stated, “ I don’t think you can put a label on a class for being the hardest. They are all AP classes, meaning they are all comparable to first year college classes. They all require hard work and perseverance in the class.” 

Hodge also described how some subjects can be harder if the student is not as strong in that specific subject; for example, AP Calculus might be harder for a student more inclined towards English while AP Literature and Composition would be much easier to understand, and vice versa. The difficulty of each AP class is truly dependent on the students themselves and the work they are willing to put into the class. 

Brandon Lee, a Senior at West Park, has taken nine AP courses throughout his four years in high school. Throughout this experience, he has gained important knowledge and opinions regarding these courses. At West Park we offer many challenging AP courses, some of which are AP Calculus AB and BC, AP Physics 1, and AP European History. 

When asked what class was hardest for him, Lee stated that, “…AP Physics was most challenging. Being able to understand the context was difficult.” Despite the difficulties of the course, Lee also stated that it was “…worth taking the class for the experience and knowledge it provides.” 

At West Park, the most popular AP classes (with the highest enrollments) are AP Language and Composition and AP Psychology, with other courses increasing enrollment by almost double for the upcoming school year. 

While the school continues to grow, so does the diversity of our classes. In the future we will be offering even more AP classes and will have more dedicated students and teachers for the courses, adding to the already diverse range of AP classes we offer at West Park. This will hopefully help students find at least one AP class they are interested in, and aid them in taking the leap towards higher level learning.