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  • Bethany Smeltzer

To AP or Not to AP

Now, I'm not going to give you a complete answer because I can't see your course load, what classes you have taken up to this point and what schools you want to apply to; however, I can tell you my story.


My freshman year, I took Honors English and did not enjoy it at all due to the teacher. For some reason, she and I just did not click. Then my senior year, I took Honors Calculous and AP Government.


I can honestly say that I am happy I didn't take AP classes and honors classes throughout high school like my siblings. I'm pretty sure one of them had at least 4 or 5 at one time and that was not the right fit for me.


My freshman year, being in that Honors English class, I truly enjoyed some of the books that we read. I was introduced to Ender's Game (and the series) and fell in love. I have since read the full series as well as the parallel series that came from Ender's Shadow.


As the year ended and we had to choose classes for sophomore year, I had to pick between English II and Honors English II. If I picked the Honors class, it would set me up to take AP English my junior and senior year. I chose English II. Even though I was challenged in Honors English, I didn't want the same experience. Well, just because I wasn't in honors didn't mean I had amazing teachers. Some were the best I ever had and changed my life and others were, well, mediocre.


In my junior year, I was in Algebra II/ Trigonometry and found it to be very easy. Now mind you, it was definitely the teacher because I have never been good at math and after her, I wasn't good at it either. The class was so easy for me, that she had me move up to Honors Pre-Calculous my senior year.


If you are thinking about transitioning like I did, there is a HUGE thing to consider that I didn't know: honors classes move faster. So Honors Algebra II/ Trigonometry had learned more than I had and my classmates were at an advantage, I was playing catchup the moment I stepped into the classroom. The other major difficulty I faced was the two teachers I had. I switched periods at the end of the semester and the two teachers were at different places even in the curriculum. I didn't realize until college why I was having an issue my senior year. The entire year was a struggle and I should not have taken the honors class to begin with, nor would I have had I known it didn't pick-up where I had left off at in my learning.


Now, I also chose to take AP Government instead of American Government and Economics. It was the only AP class I took in my high school course work. I took it mainly because my siblings loved the course and the teacher. On the first day of class, I walked up to the teacher and said, "I'm here just for the challenge and will not be taking the AP test." The shock and look in her eyes was quite humoring. She replied, "Let's just see how the year goes." In which I responded to her, "It's ok, I'm not a good test taker and I just want to experience an AP class before I graduate without the pressure."


So, I went into the class without pressure on myself or from the teacher. This was the hardest class I took and that says a lot considering I was is a special academic medical program where my biology, anatomy, and health classes were equivalent to AP classes. They were weighted without the "honors" or "AP" title but we were fully prepped for the AP tests if we wanted to take them. Many of my classmates did and passed with 4's and 5's.


You may be wondering now, after reading this:

"What do I do?"


But I can't simply answer that question in this blog. Knowing your own study habits, course load, and aspirations for the futures are all factors and should be used to make your decisions.