The trend for HBA Advanced Placement (AP) classes is that the number of students taking them increases each year.
In the 2015-16 school year, 193 students took AP classes. Since then, the number has increased gradually, with 203 students taking AP courses this year. In particular, enrollment this year in AP Biology, AP Calculus, and AP English has increased. There are three sections of AP Biology and three sections of AP Calculus including the upper level course.
According to HBA registrar Sean Aoyagi, more students in the 2018-19 school year will be taking two or more AP classes than this year. This year, 43 students took three or more APs while there are 58 in the upcoming school year. English department co-chair Faye Takushi thinks that the increase in AP English 12 enrollment is due in part to the belief that it’s an easier course than AP English 11.
Curriculum Director Pat Ota thinks that taking more APs has its benefits and disadvantages. “The benefit of taking APs is having an opportunity to try college level work in an area that you are interested,” she said. However, she warned, if students don’t manage their time well, too many APs can be detrimental.
Counseling Department Chair Danford Chang also named time management as key to being successful in multiple AP courses. “Take classes you are passionate about because then you are more likely to joyfully study for the class and spend extra time on it. [Do] well in the class and [learn] the content vs. trying to get a good grade,” he said.
Students sign up for AP classes for many reasons: looking for a challenge, receiving college credit, or learning more about a subject they’re passionate about. Ideally, AP classes teach students how to manage their time between classes, extracurricular activities and personal interests.
At HBA, students can make requests to the administration for new AP courses. Junior Kasen Wong petitioned for AP Japanese, which is running for the first time next school year. For students who will be attending colleges that require a language class, AP Japanese can count as that language requirement. This means that students will not need to enroll for a basic language course after having already taken years of language courses in high school.
Wong is enrolled in five APs for his senior year, which is considered an extreme workload. “If you’re given an opportunity to take a class at a quality or college level, and pursue a higher education level of a certain course, then I believe it’s worth the investment,” he said. Wong is taking AP Biology, Government, English 12, Japanese, and Calculus BC.
“If you’re given an opportunity to take a class at a quality or college level, and pursue a higher education level of a certain course, then I believe it’s worth the investment,” he said.
Wong, whose third quarter GPA is a 4.33, is optimistic about his time management because he has taken honors and AP classes, participated in multiple sports year round, and has held leadership positions in clubs for almost three years. He has an idea of what each subject is like because he has taken Biology and Government in freshman year, English and Japanese every year, and Pre Calculus his junior year.
A significant amount of time, particularly in the second semester, is spent preparing for the AP exams in May. This month, AP Chemistry students are testing to prepare for the AP exam. In every class, students are studying by doing practice packets. Students can come in after school almost every day and on Saturdays this month for extra tutoring with AP Chemistry teacher Mike Hu.
AP English 11 students have been preparing throughout the year by turning in an “Annotated Glossary” every Thursday, where they learn literary terms for use in literary analysis. They have been focusing on how to ace the exam since January by writing three different types of essays: a synthesis, prose analysis, and argument. Juniors are also taking multiple choice tests similar to the real AP English exam.
As AP courses are for college credit, exams are difficult to pass. “It’s not easy. Passing means most schools will give you college credit, so it’s a beast of a test,” Chang said.
Senior Haven Won, who will be attending Princeton next year, challenged himself this year with five AP classes: AP Physics 1, Calculus AB, English 12, Statistics, and Biology. He learned that it’s important to stay on schedule. “To manage my time, I had to be meticulous in planning for upcoming assignments and tests so that I could schedule my studying accordingly,” he said.
Won suggested to students who are taking four or more APs is that they should only take as much as they can handle. “Don’t let yourself fall behind in the material for you classes because it’s a lot harder to catch up. Make sure you can handle functioning on very little sleep every night. Hang out with friends and don’t spend all your time studying,” he said.