AP classes: Moving at a ‘breakneck pace’


Ella Dame

Students in AP World work on DBQ (Document Based Question) thesis statements in groups to prepare for the AP exam.

By Ella Dame

180 days. Meticulously counting how much time she gets to teach, Ms. Wain utilizes part of her summer preparing for her content packed AP Art History course she will be teaching the upcoming year. With over 200 works of art to cover, along with skills to teach, her students will have to work as hard as she does to pass the AP test.

AP Art History is just one of the 34 AP classes offered at Lane. Both teachers and students have commented on many of the courses’ extremely fast paced and content heavy curriculum.

With two redesigns in AP U.S. Government and Politics and AP World History, changes are being made to make certain classes more manageable during the 2018-19 school year.

AP World History’s redesign will be cutting out half of the content the course currently includes. Rather than teaching prehistory, the class will be teaching history starting at the year 1200 CE.

Teacher Ms. Applequist said that she agrees with the redesign, but will miss the content that the course will lose.

“Next year, hopefully having less material to cover, we’ll have more time in class, have it a little bit more balanced,¨ Applequist said.

Changes like the ones coming to AP World History for the 2019-20 school year are not the first changes the course has seen.

“They’re completely redesigning the course for a third time in four years,” Applequist said.

Many AP history classes are teaching entire histories of different topics, such as countries, governments, people and places, days at a time. Currently, AP World covers prehistory to more current world events.

“When it comes down to it, we average four days per chapter and that’s including quizzes, any writing assignments and covering content in class,” Applequist said.

Teachers and students are given a set amount of time to cover all of their classes content by the deadline, the AP exam.

The stress caused by this deadline is commented on by New York Times writer Christopher Drew when he spoke about the amount of content crammed into AP classes, more specifically scientific classes like AP Biology, in an article titled “Rethinking Advanced Placement.”

“And what fuels the panic is that nearly every tongue-twisting term and microscopic fact is fair game for the year-end test that decides who will receive college credit for the course,” Drew said.

On the end of the year AP exam students may need to receive a 3, 4 or 5 to get college credit, depending on the college they wish to receive credit from. A large number of colleges will accept a 3 on most AP exams.

However, certain prestigious schools such as Yale, Harvard and University of Chicago will only accept 5’s on some AP exams. Exceptions are occasionally made, but it varies from subject to subject.

To get a 5 on the AP test, a student needs to know as much as possible about the subject they’re being tested on and demonstrate they are “extremely well-qualified.”

According to the College Board, being extremely well-qualified means the student must be extremely “capable of doing the work of an introductory-level course in a particular subject at college.”

Some teachers argue students are being required to memorize too much content while others claim AP classes are more challenging by nature.

Ms. Laroche, who teaches AP Language, said that it makes sense to require more of AP students.

“ To me, it should be a more intensive class if you’re potentially getting college credit,” Laroche said. “It should be college level work, and I do expect my students to give me college level work,”  Laroche said.

With limited amount of time to learn due to the AP exam, the pace of content quickens.

“We are just moving at a breakneck pace through content,” Applequist said.

Although many teachers said they feel rushed when having to cover so much content in their AP class, they also expressed their love for teaching it.

“I like that students are motivated and they know they can get college credit,” Applequist said.

Ms. Laroche expressed a similar sentiment.

“I do enjoy teaching AP classes,” Laroche said. “I do enjoy the kids who are working and want it.”

With high content level AP classes, the students are not the only ones to learn new things. Teachers may learn new information and gain new experiences through the classes they themselves are teaching.              

“It’s broadened my horizons and understanding of the world and history and just lots of different cultures,” Wain said.“I just know so much more than before I started teaching the course.”