The curse of the two trimester AP course

Calvin Prenkert, Staff Writer

This week marked the beginning of AP testing for many South students. Months of coursework and studying culminate in a several-hour test located in one of South’s multipurpose rooms like the Large Group Room or White Gym. For those who have never experienced an AP test, they are very similar to other standardized tests, such as the ISTEP or SAT/ACT.

While many students have been nose deep in review books and multiple choice practice tests for the past few weeks, not all AP students have been in their classes.  Several AP classes are only taught in the first two trimesters of the year, like AP European History and AP Calculus BC. Many students often feel that AP classes that don’t meet in the third trimester are harder to do well on.

“It’s significantly harder to get a better score on tests like AP Euro than in classes that continue into the third trimester,” junior Jack Foster said. “You review the material if you have it in third trimester, but if you don’t, you lose the the knowledge you’ve gained throughout classes.”

Matthew Hoagland, AP European history teacher, understands the students frustration.

“We don’t have the review time, and kids haven’t been in class since February. They forget. You have to hope they’re studying,” Hoagland said.

However, Hoagland hypothesizes that, in the case of AP Euro, the number of people taking the class could significantly drop if it were a three trimester course. Hoagland knows that the majority of people taking the class are underclassmen and are potentially taking an AP class for the first time for a gradual exposure to higher level courses, rather than for the college credit.

“It’s mostly sophomores in the class, so it’s a good way for them to get started with AP tests,  but students who are really motivated will still do well on the tests.” Hoagland said.

“It’s a trade off,” calculus teacher Kevin Raney said. “In general, students are better off being in the class when the test is given, but in the case of Calculus BC, we don’t need three trimesters to learn the content.”

For AP classes with three trimesters, teachers are given much more time with students to review.

“With students juggling so many activities after school, being able to review in class is great,”  AP US History teacher Phil Klusener said.

Nonetheless, Klusener maintains that studying outside of class is still essential for earning a high score.

“With the students I have, it’s all about the level of effort. If the student is willing to put in the effort with the resources we give them, they’ll be successful,” Klusener said.