Battle of the APs: AP Biology or AP World History?

AP World or AP Bio—that is the question.

AP World or AP Bio?

It’s a question that KIS students are all too familiar with; every year, sophomores are confronted (or rather inevitably confronted) with this dilemma. With two, rather heavy, choices to choose from, we, as sophomores, must carefully consider advice from upperclassmen, unreliable rumors, parent’s suggestions, and most importantly, whether we would enjoy and be able to handle that certain AP course. Ultimately, with our minds somewhat-set, we sign up for the course that will define our entire sophomore year with a trembling hand.

Now with the school year already on its third month, Blueprint has brought to you a comprehensive analysis comparing the two AP choices backed up by answers from our very own students.

The Argument for AP Biology

Having a somewhat more positive prestige, AP Biology seems to be the more preferred course among sophomores. It is a well known belief that AP Biology is the “more relaxing and easier-GPA” course taught by a more “chill” teacher, Mr. Hopkin, and that it is a better way to enter the terrifying world of APs. Now that two months have already passed since the start of the school year, sophomores should have experienced more than what they have simply heard. There have been a variety of responses from students taking AP Bio. Some seem to be pleased, even complimenting the joy the course gives.

Mr. Hopkin gives a thrilling lecture on glycolysis to a few sophomores. (Clare Kwon, ’18)
Students observe the growth of turtles in the middle of class. (Clare Kwon, ’18)

Many students have nothing but compliments for the class. They have truly learned the importance of enjoying what you learn.

“AP Bio is such a fun class! The subject itself is very interesting. Unlike most subjects, it connects to what we see in our daily life. So, it’s fascinating when I learn how things work inside other organisms and myself.”— Sarah Mirae Kim (’18)

Yet, quite inevitably, there are struggles along the way, too (that are still somehow positive).

“I would have to admit that AP Biology is a challenging class. Especially because it’s my first AP course ever, I’m struggling over the tests. However, there’s also fun to it. Bio is life, so we’re literally learning more about life!”— Alice Yoo (’18)

“It’s a fun and challenging course, as the materials go a lot more in depth than what we learned last year. Lots of memorization is required, and at the same time I have to understand, which makes the course even more challenging. Taking notes is also a bit time-consuming, but as for now, it’s still doable.” – Anonymous

Maybe, the belief about AP Biology is quite true. With more positive responses, it seems that the start hasn’t been as painful, although some have trouble handling a never experienced amount of work.

The Argument for AP World History

On the other hand, AP World History is known to be the opposite—a complete GPA killer. Thus, the number of sophomores taking Mr. Yanuszeski’s AP World History classes is actually far less than those taking AP Biology. There has already been many reported cases of mental breakdowns, tears shed, and of course, outrages from the students. Starting the year with a million historic knowledge and mind boggling similarities and differences between various civilizations, AP World History classes have already written three essays.

Mr. Y
The course may be rough, but Mr. Yanuzeski’s enthusiasm is an encouragement all on its own. (Clare Kwon, ’18)
Sara Kim ('18) reviewing her notes (Clare Kwon '18)
Sara Kim (’18) studiously reviews her notes. (Clare Kwon, ’18)

But what do the students have to say about this course so far?

“Well, I would say most of the students taking the course are struggling quite in this subject, especially the essay writings, because we’ve never done anything quite like it before. Also, history has always been a subject where it is fun, but there’s a lot of memorizing along with it, which is always a challenge too.” – Anonymous

“AP World? Challenging, arduous, but rewarding.” – Amy Kim (’18)

“I have a weird love-hate relationship with this course. I love the subject because the course itself offers so much fruitful knowledge, but I want to cry when I realize that I have around 10,000 years of history to study for our lovely exam in April. AP World History is like a train. It never stops, it just keeps rolling. If you fall behind, Train Yanuszeski will not wait for you.” – Sara Kim (’18)

With the overabundance of effort, care, and attention needed, essays seem to be the greatest labor and agony of AP World History. Nonetheless, the feeling of triumph after finishing an essay or completing a unit, catching the train of AP World is incomparable with any other pleasure.

The Verdict

Whether taking AP Biology or AP World History, we still have to put in endless effort. In the end, it is not always about the grade or the exam score; it is the process, the experience, and the knowledge we gain that really matters.

Stay strong sophomores!


– Yoo Bin Shin (’18)

Edited by: Faith Choi (’16)

Featured Image: Clare Kwon (’18)

AP Share Sessions 2015

As course registration weeks draws closer and closer, it’s time to make the biggest decisions of our high school career… AP course registration. Emily Kim (’16) gives a rundown on this year’s AP Share Session.

As second semester rapidly progresses and we finally get (re)accustomed to our rigorous schedules, power naps, and caffeine-filled nights, the time to start planning for next year’s schedule has already arrived. And along with that, naturally, comes the bewilderment and confusion over which Advanced Placement courses best suit us. But never fear—the school has generously endowed us with the annual informational AP Share Sessions!

Ready for AP Chinese?? | c. Jamine Kang (’16)

At the AP Share Sessions, which took place on Monday, February 23 and Wednesday, February 25, the KISians received an opportunity to meet with possible future teachers, to ask away questions regarding workloads, grading systems, and curriculums to their hearts’ content, and to make informed decisions. During each day, the current sophomores and juniors were provided with the flexibility of attending two informative sessions, each approximately 15 minutes long. Despite the long run from one classroom to another, surging through the flights of stairs from the H building to G building to run ahead of the 22 attendance limit, many students claim they found the experience valuable. Even Jerry Kim (’16), a current junior, claims,

“They gave me a great insight into what difficulty of each course was to be expected.”

What about the freshmen you may ask? The rising sophomores had a bit of a different experience, for they are more limited in their choices, as they can only take either AP Biology, headed by experienced Mr. Hopkin, or AP World History, lead by the Mr. Yanuszeski. The freshmen went to the teachers’ respective classrooms, where the two teachers appealed to the students and hopefully lessened their worries. Although the location was different, the experience was as equally enlightening and gratifying. Kay Herr (’18), a current freshmen indicates:

“Before the session, I was very confused and unsure about which course I wanted to take next year. But the session definitely helped me get rid of my worries and choose the best course that I truly wanted to take.”

Leona Maruyama (’17) eagerly signing up for her junior courses. | c. Jamine Kang (’16)

For those who may have already forgotten or those who missed the AP Share Sessions, here’s a brief overview! Please note that for AP art and language courses, share sessions will be offered individually during class time.

World History: AP World History is an intensive college-level study of non-Western history, from approximately 8000 B.C.E. to the present. Analysis of primary source documents, class discussions, and three types of essays (comparative, continuity and change-over-time, document based question) will be common, so make sure to come prepared. Talk to Mr. Yanuszeski (G 602) for more information.


Biology: AP biology is a rigorous course centering around topics such as the chemistry of life, heredity, diversity of organisms, and ecology. Those interested in lectures and hands-on laboratory activities may enjoy this course. Talk to Mr. Hopkin (G 303) for more information.


US History: AP United States History focuses on the problems and development of the United States, ranging from its inception to the present. Students will learn various historical thinking skills, how to write essays, and how to assess the validity of historical documents. Talk to Mr. Farley (G606) for more information.


English Language & Composition: AP English Language and Composition is a class driven heavily by extensive writings, critical analysis of texts, and manipulation of the English language. If you wish to take this course, you must take a required writing diagnostic. Talk to Mr. van Moppes (H 400) for more information.


Seminar: AP Seminar is the first component of a two-year discipline-specific diploma program that provides a Capstone distinction to students who have successfully completed the course. KIS is the only school in Korea that has received the opportunity to offer this course. Talk to Mr. Quirin (H 406) for more information.


Statistics: AP Statistics is a challenging study focused on the concepts of statistics and their in-depth meaning and application to real life. Those who wish to explore topics such as regression, patterns, and probability are encouraged to take the course. Talk to Ms. Chen (H 503) for more information.


Calculus AB: AP Calculus AB is a class for the introduction of limits of functions, continuity, integrals, and many more. This may be the perfect course who wish to level-up from Pre-calculus, but not too much. Talk to Mr. Robert (H 500) for more information.


Calculus BC: AP Calculus BC is an intensive course that goes over all the course materials of AP Calculus AB, while deepening the challenge and going over additional topics such as vector functions and sequences and series. Talk to Mr. Whitehead (H 504) for more information.


Macro/Micro Economics: AP Economics provides information on the basics of economics such as the nature of supply and demand, production decisions, and market structures. A benefit of taking this class would be receiving two credits: one for macroeconomics, and one for microeconomics. Talk to Mr. Hubbs (G 603) or Mr. Reschke for more information.


Psychology: AP Psychology is a college-level study of peoples’ behavior and mental processes. Various methods, theories, and experiments of psychology will be discussed for the purpose of enhancing our recognition and insights of the world. Talk to Ms. Summerton (G 607) for more information.


Chemistry: AP Chemistry focuses on quantitative and physical chemistry, including the topics of thermodynamics, chemical equilibriums, kinetic theory of gases, and many more. This course is encouraged for those pursuing a career in science and those interested in composing lab reports. Talk to Mr. McClure (H 104) for more information.


Physics I or II: AP Physics I and II both utilize proportional reasoning, basic trigonometry, and algebra. Though the two courses differ in academic rigor, focus on lab-work and written analysis remains constant. Talk to Mr. Fazio (G 308) for more information.


English Literature:  AP English Literature and Composition focuses on the analysis of great literature, the structure of works, and many more. Students should be prepared for intensive, close readings, both during and outside of class. Talk to Mr. Turnbeaugh (H 401) for more information.


Music Theory: AP Music Theory advances listening skills, sight-singing skills, and compositional skills. Those who wish to pursue a more in-depth understanding of music may wish to take this course. Talk to Mr. Majors (EB 101) for more information.

Ultimately, despite the bombard of information above, the most important thing to consider is whether you are truly interested in taking the AP course or not. As all the teachers say, don’t focus on the potential benefits AP courses may provide you with for the college application process, but on your confidence and commitment to the course. Good luck!

– Emily Kim (’16)

Header: Jamine Kang (’16)