By Hussein Fardous ‘16
Complaints about various AP changes among students have risen this year. The College Board recently made changes in AP U.S. History, AP Physics and AP Chemistry last year that will allegedly benefit students.
According to the College Board, they changed the AP Physics B course into algebra based AP Physics 1 and 2 courses taken separately. This change won’t allow for students to get ahead in college physics before attending college because now they have to take this course for two years. In addition, it won’t allow for students to challenge themselves anymore and show prestigious colleges their ability to excel in a strenuous course.
“I think many students were displeased with it because seniors currently taking this course would not be able to take the second part of the course,” said Mr. Howard Spergel, the AP Physics 1 teacher.
Josh Pilipovsky ‘16, currently taking the class said, “AP Physics 1 is a joke. It’s not challenging enough. I wanted to take AP Physics B to show colleges what I am capable of.”
The College Board initiated AP Physics changes because a study conducted by the National Research Council (NRC) delineated that the AP Physics B course was taught broadly and rushed. As a result, students weren’t gaining a deep understanding of college physics topics. In addition, struggling students could now manage AP Physics while still getting good grades and understanding the concepts being taught in class.
“Unlike the beliefs of others, I believe that the formation of an AP Physics 1 class will be beneficial for students since they will now be able to learn more detailed information about physics and its application in the world,” said Siddique Shafi ‘16, currently taking AP Physics 1.
“I think the exam changed with good intentions,” said Mr. Spergel. “We just have to wait and see how it will work and if it will help with understanding the material.”
The College Board has also changed the AP US course because they realized it had too much information and details for students to study to perform well on the end of the year exam. Now, it is more about understanding the big concepts of US History and the ability to think like a historian by demonstrating analytical thinking.
“I really like the new format. Big concepts are broken up from 13 to 7 themes,” Mr. Joseph Peters, an AP US History teacher said. “Also, the AP exam tests you on your historical thinking skills and the understanding of history instead of just memorization of information. Thus, writing and thinking skills are improved. It also gives students the flexibility to adjust and perform better.”
These new changes will require students to be critical thinkers which could negatively affect their performance since students aren’t used to this type of testing. Students coming from AP World History or AP European History are used to completing content based questions that don’t require scrutinizing questions and reading documents about them.
“The AP changes are really confusing,” said Mohammed Kamil ‘16, an AP US History student. “It disrupts the students’ study habits. It is really hard to adjust and perform well on tests in class.”
Bilal Azhar ‘16, a current AP US History student, added, “AP US is now harder because it is now a more thought provocative class because of the addition of reading and interpretive questions compared to just content based questions that it had before.”
Moreover, time is proving to be a big problem on the new AP US test, as the College Board cut down on the time.
“The toughest part of the exam is the time,” Mr. Peters said. “There are 55 minutes for 55 questions and prompts on the multiple choice section. I am really worried about students when they take this section of the exam in May.”
The College Board has changed the AP Chemistry course from heavily testing you on memorizing information to testing you on hands-on activities, practice problems, and lab activities. Students are no longer completing a lab based on a given procedure. They have to form a hypothesis and design an experiment afterwards. Thus, students will gain more experience and preparation for college.
“AP Chemistry is a very tough and rigorous class even after the change to the course,” said Mr. Vincent Adams who is an AP Chemistry teacher. “Many students are not ready and mess up, even good students. Adjustment and focus is required to perform in this class.”
According to William Xie ‘16, a current AP Chemistry student, “AP Chemistry’s new focus on laboratory concepts adds a variety to the vigorous workload but the sheer number of practice problems are redundant and tedious.”
Despite giving students more experience and preparation for the obstacles that they will meet in College, students are overall unhappy with the AP Changes. While these changes have cut down on information, they emphasize critical thinking skills and deep understanding of information. This is proving to be a difficult task for students.
Eileen Chen ‘16 and Josephine Zhen ‘16 also contributed.