Environmental Science at Berkeley High School

Archived Q&A and Reviews

AP Environmental Science at BHS

March 2013

I would appreciate information on the AP Environmental Science class at BHS. My 10th grader would like to take the class next year but friends -- all planning on AP Physics etc -- have said it is a joke class. Hard to believe an AP class is a joke class ... information from a parent of a kid who has actually taken the class would be great. Thanks in advance. Another BHS parent

So here's the thing about AP Environmental Science at BHS....unlike the other AP classes, which cram a year's worth of college material into a year of high school, at a ''forced march'' pace, APES is a semester's worth paced over a year. So it's a lot easier.


Is it a joke? Well, in part it depends on the teacher - my daughter's teacher was, let's put it this way, undemanding...but her friend had a different teacher who seemed to be a bit more challenging. But here's the other thing - it's seen as a ''gateway'' AP for kids who might not be otherwise inclined to try an AP class...so I think at least one of the teachers makes a conscious effort to err on the side of being unintimidating. So yes, it's (literally) a walk in the park. But that might be OK. Or that might be frustrating if your kid wants more. ??

Contact an adult who presently has a child in the program and let your child know that listening to his peers is not the way to make a decision Anon


AP Physics is considered to be one of the most challenging classes at berkeley high. It is best taken by students who are truly interested in physics. In BIHS you cannot take AP physics until senior year. Many take regular physics just to prepare for AP. So, yes, AP Physics would be harder than the AP Environmental Sciences class would be for most students. With the AP Env Sci class you get out of it what you put into it. And you learn about topics that any citizen should know about. If your student ends up being interested in a career in the ever-expanding field of environmental science, then this will have been a good first step. Junior year at Berkeley High can be extremely rigorous, so having a RELATIVELY less demanding class is fine. And your student is showing foresight by picking the class that is right for them and not bowing to peer pressure. Also keep in mind that a college sees it as an AP class and does not listen to berkeley high student rumors. Bhs parent


My son is currently taking AP Environmental Science and he says the difficulty and work load depend on the teacher. He is a junior who took AP Chemistry last year and does not find the class a waste of time but significantly less difficult than AP Chem. If your child is interested in the subject, it could be a good class to take. BHS Mom

I'm a seasoned math and science tutor at Classroom Matters, and I know several students who have taken AP Environmental Science (APES) at BHS.

The difficulty of the class depends on a few things. The first variable is the teacher: one of the teachers is more rigorous and demanding than the other. The second, and most important, variable is the student. Students who are interested in environmental science and who want to get a lot out of the class will. The students who take APES just so they'll have an AP on their transcript generally do the minimum amount of work necessary to get the grade they want. These are the students who end up struggling to understand the material when AP Exam season starts up in May.

I think that one of the reasons students think that APES is a ''joke'' is because the homework is usually reading, and kids make the mistake of thinking that reading isn't actually work. Personally, I think that the course can be a worthwhile experience and a good way to ease kids into college-level coursework. Meg