Advanced Placement (AP) Classes at BHS

Parent Q&A

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  • I'm hoping parents who recently went through the college application process with their kids can give me some advice. My daughter is a BHS sophomore. She gets very good grades but is not particularly academically-oriented. She does her work and she finds some of it mildly interesting but - so far - school isn't where she wants to put her time and energy. Then again, she barely had a half year of high school before distance learning started so maybe that's part of the issue. She isn't super challenged by her classes and that was true at King as well. She dislikes Math and Science and says she barely knows what's going on sometimes, but she still gets A's. This worries me in terms of the potential difference between "regular" classes and AP classes. My main question is about AP classes for next year in 11th grade. She's in AC (Academic Choice) and plans to take: #1. the 3rd year of a language, #2. Math 3 (not Advanced Math), #3. Biology (not AP). For those whose kids graduated before U9 started, Bio or AP Bio are her only choices for 11th grade now. #4. AP English Lang & Comp, #5. AP US History. The question is what she takes for class # 6. Are AP English and History going to be a rude awakening for her in terms of the level and amount of work compared to what she's experienced so far? She wants her 6th class to be an art elective, not an academic class. I've been told that she should really be taking 3 APs her Junior year if she wants to get into a UC. Is that true? The only other AP she's remotely interested in is AP Art History but she's very nervous that 3 APs will be way more than she can handle. She's involved in some great extracurricular activities so my question isn't about "the whole package" of what's important on college applications - I'm really just wanting to understand specifically about the APs at this point. I would be very grateful to hear your thoughts!  TIA

    Well, I will say at BHS, many of the science classes are not great, and she can easily get an A without knowing the material (this was my daughter in 9th grade Physics). If your daughter did not take AP Chemistry in 10th grade, she might want to take 3 AP classes Junior yr. My 11 grader opted to take only 2 APs this year (plus AP Chem last yr) and she's taking a class at Berkeley City College. She decided on AP Art History instead of AP US History because she plans to go into design. It's a great class. One of the best APs at BHS. I think you should reach out to the College and Career Counselors at BHS with your questions. They're really knowledgeable and helpful. Jennifer Hammond is the counselor for AC: jenniferhammond [at]

    I have a junior right now. I’m sure it partly depends on teacher, and of course my junior has only had these classes as Distance Learning, but given all that— the AP Eng Lang and Comp requires very little work. I think he worked harder in his regular freshman English class. The AP US History is a little more work, but it’s not huge. His biggest work load by far is in AP Bio, where he routinely has an hour or two of homework. I don’t know much about UC and AP’s, but wanted to reassure you that AP Eng Comp and AP US History have not been overwhelming for my son at all. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Taking Multiple AP Classes in a semester

March 2001

It's class selection time at Berkeley High and we're looking for some advice. My son plans to take AP Physics, AP Calculus B/C, and AP Latin (4th year). He is an excellent math student and Latin is his favorite subject, so this looks good so far. He is also in the Jazz Ensemble, which entails many hours of practice. The question is-- has anyone's child taken that combo so that we may have some idea what kind of work load we're talking about? Is it insane to consider AP English as well? What experience do people have with the 12th grade non--AP English electives? Are they more of the "nothing" we've come to expect from English classes? In other words, he's looking for something academically rigorous w/o having the life sucked out of him. I'd appreciate any thoughts from parents who've had kids in these classes. WR

In reply to WR who asked about her son taking AP Physics, AP Calculus, AP Latin,AP English, Jazz Ensemble: My daughter is taking AP Physics, AP Calculus, AP English, plus other classes and the diving team and finds it all quite an enjoyable challenge except for AP Physics which is over the top difficult and stressful. Unless your son is headed for Engineering or Physics in college, regular Physics might be a better choice. That one class robbed my daughter of her usual academic confidence and enjoyment. She has told me many times that she will never take another Physics class and that her love of science has been severely tested by this one experience. The AP English classes finally seem to be a reasonable English experience. Good luck. Anon

Thanks to everyone who wrote to me about their child's experience with multiple AP classes. We weighed all the input which ranged from "he'll go nuts" to "it will be good for him!" My son's decided on a path that feels sane for him: AP Physics, AP Calc, AP Latin and non-AP English and an interesting history elective. Thanks again. -WR