We have all heard of it from the upperclassmen: sophomore year is suffermore year. With the rise in the amount of homework and assessments, coupled with the numerous extracurriculars, sophomore students are in one of their busiest times so far in high school. One obvious factor that contributes to the franticness is the student’s first experiences with AP(s), whether that is AP Biology, AP World History, and/or AP Capstone Seminar. As the number of AP assessments pile up for the upcoming weeks, Blueprint has interviewed several sophomores who shared their opinions on how their first AP(s) are going. Read on to discover whether or not their AP courses have made their sophomore year, suffermore year!
Although each of the AP courses is distinct from one another, there are some common grounds as many students were surprised by the level of difficulty. One struggle that encompasses all three APs is the emphasis on independent learning. In freshmen year, most students were heavily reliant on the teacher to teach them every concept. However, in AP classes, self-studying is a much larger part of the course. JJ Kim (‘19), a student who takes AP Biology, claimed that unlike last year, you “can’t expect the teacher to lecture everything like a regular course.” The same goes with AP World History, as Neo Pak (‘19) mentioned that one of the hardest part of the course is to “learn the textbook mostly on your own.” Along with the stress on autonomy, interviewees reported that there is an obvious increase in the dedication one must put into the class. A unique comment brought by Jason was that he was astounded at how “laid-back” Mr. van Moppes was as Jason expected him to be a “strict, merciless” teacher.
However, many interviewees also highlighted the positive aspects of their respective AP courses. Overall, students agreed that AP courses were an enriching experience in that one is given the opportunity to delve into the depths of a subject, along with other passionate peers. JJ praised the mini-lectures of AP Biology for their succinct and logical style. It was also mentioned that in-class questions are always given sufficient and helpful answers. On the other hand, in AP World History, the more language-heavy course, students found in-class discussions to be the most valuable. AP Seminar, as usual, proved to be unique in its positive aspects- the small class size and overall atmosphere received much praise. Jason specifically stated that everyone seems “genuinely enthusiastic about learning rather than receiving a good grade”, and that “a sense of competition is almost nonexistent”.
The sophomores also had a lot to say in regards to tips and recommendations for other present and future course-takers. Both AP Biology and AP World History students agreed that watching videos related to the course can be a very insightful and entertaining resource. Teachers are another resource that can never be over-utilized: they are there to assist you, and not being afraid to ask for help can be the vehicle for success in the course. One specific tip shared by Jenny Chung (‘19) was to keep asking the question “what if?” when analyzing different diagrams, in order to develop one’s critical thinking skills when approaching various situations. Otherwise, reading the textbook is a tried and true method that students can always return to if they lack the basic knowledge required.
That is, unless you are an AP Seminar student- AP Seminar does not have a textbook! As an alternative, reading different articles, being aware of diverse perspectives, and always keeping up-to-date with current events are ways of making sure you get the most out of the class. In fact, keeping up with current events is not only recommended but required of the course, as class plans often shift in order to discuss new events.
Overall, every AP student interviewed agreed that time management is most integral. Being a victim of procrastination is a sure-fire way to land yourself in a tough spot. It is no coincidence that multiple AP Seminar students reported to pulling an all-nighter for the first time when their first individual research papers were due!
It is no debate that AP courses are difficult to manage- after all, they are meant to be college-level classes, to be an “extra step”. But in the competitive environment of a school like KIS, it is easy to start regarding them as necessities, mere numbers, or trophies to stack in your college resume. APs should be regarded for what they are: classes meant for enriching your interests and challenging the limits of your academic pursuits. In the end, every student is encouraged to take that “extra step”. All interviewees agreed to having a tough time, but they also gave the uniform statement that they did not regret taking the course in the least bit. So maybe it’ll keep you up some nights, and maybe it’ll keep your Powerschool on edge—but go ahead and take the leap of faith. You may discover a whole new world of enjoyment and passion.
—Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19) & Jisoo Hope Yoon (’19)
*Banner: Crescentia Jung (’19)