AP classes for freshmen prove challenging


Photo by Christina Martirosova

Freshman Neil Kotval works on their code AP CSP for the first part of the exam. The second portion is multiple choice and will be held in May.

Leaving middle school and entering high school can be a big transition. Aside from being in a bigger building and needing to adjust to that, academic courses become more challenging, especially AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) and AP NSL, which are the two AP classes offered to freshmen. 

Since AP classes move at a faster pace than regular classes, students learn more. Taking an AP class in high school and passing the exam means that students will not have to spend money to take that class in college. Freshman Victoria Alexander said, “It helps check off some required credit courses at college/university and therefore, you can save money from having to pay for those courses and the exams.”

AP CSP allows students to learn Java and practice it using a program called Repl. Students in this class have finished the first part of their exam, which is writing a program that has to meet certain requirements. Freshman Derek Chang said, “It isn’t that stressful, since we did a practice assignment for it, I knew how to do the real one.”

Students in AP CSP had one week in class to work on their code. Afterward, the students had to screen record how the program worked and upload it to the College Board. Alexander said, “There were some hidden bugs in the code that had me stuck since I was trying really hard to think of a solution that worked the way I wanted it to.”

AP NSL is a class where students learn about government. Compared to AP CSP, the workload in NSL is heavier. Freshman Anton Obolensky said, “There are a lot of somewhat large projects that are assigned for a couple of weeks and not worked on in class.”

Aside from taking interest in one of the AP classes, it is important to know how much work is considered too much. In AP CSP, students get projects that they work on in class instead of homework. Alexander said, “The workload is not very excessive because the majority of the assignments are projects that take up about one and a half weeks to two weeks and they consist of a lot of points.”

Skill sets such as study habits are developed naturally as the school year progresses. Different classes can evoke different skill sets. Obolensky said that in AP NSL, “You learn to not only rely on the sources that are provided to you but sometimes you also need to infer from a text’s concept and use it to formulate an answer instead of paraphrasing the text itself.”

Freshmen could find the sudden change in workload in high school compared to middle school stressful enough on its own. It is important to get used to the new workload first before signing up for a college level course. Alexander said, “I wouldn’t recommend but encourage rising freshmen to take AP classes because it all depends on their ability. But at the same time, they should try challenging themselves, and hey, if you can’t handle it then just change it.”