AP Class Recommendations

As Irvington High doesn’t allow freshmen or sophomores to take AP classes (with certain exceptions), students are limited in the nummer of class slots they have before they’re quickly filled. It’s important to take classes that not only meet and challenge your academic skills but are also classes that you find interesting (or at the very least, not despise). Here is a list of quotes from Irvington juniors, seniors and alumni to hopefully help you narrow down your choices.

AP Art History

“Art History is absolutely not a course for everyone, but for people who have experience with either art or history (preferably both to be honest), it’s a less academically rigorous AP course that is very fulfilling and should be an option to consider! My class either loves or hates it, but being able to have a crash course about basically the entire history of humanity from the B.C. to today is very cool and fun” Alex Guo

“apah is ok only if ur ready to put in the work (memorization and notes) and if ur actually interested in studying art. It helps to have decent knowledge about world history. The teacher is chill but lowkey weird ngl. Her test schedules and note “checks” are really unpredictable but she’s really flexible.” Alice Shu

AP Biology

“Ms. Koehler is a really good teacher, and she’s really organized. She over prepares you for the AP exam, and you learn study skills for college because her tests are really difficult. ” Lillian Weng (Alumni, UC Berkeley)

“Probably the first class that focused on application and not regurgitating vocabulary, which I really appreciated. Biology teaches you everything from body functions to mycorrhizae. Koehler also prepares you for [AP Bio exams] It’s an easier class than ap chem. I’d recommend taking AP bio because almost all colleges take a 4 or a 5 on the AP test for credit and saves you money.” Chloe Retika (Alumni, UCLA)

“AP Bio with Koehler is a tough, tough class. Her class is fast paced (tests every 2 weeks), so you really need to be on top of your work. She curves quite generously and is very understanding, but that doesn’t soften the blows from her exams. Ask yourself questions, utilize active recall, and don’t waste time taking pretty notes about vocabulary because 90% of her questions are application problems. I love this class, and Biology is actually really fun, but be prepared to put in the work.” Rosalyn Weng (11)

AP Chemistry

-tests: approx one every 3 weeks 

-quiz: every week

-homework load: 4 hours weekly, not kidding

“Mr. Lee probably gave you the happiness curve lecture during the intro meeting, and he’s not joking. [It’ll be hard but] if you fight and work through it, you’re going to learn how to deal with stress, how to actually study, and how to finish 2 hour labs in 1 hour. Pace yourself and study bit by bit every day. The math part is mostly dimensional analysis and basic algebra. Lee prepares you well for the AP test, and he also changes your grade if you get a 5. Also good college credit.” Chloe Retika

AP Calculus

“If you’re coming in from cp precalc, you’re probably not getting an A. The non-accelerated classes don’t prepare you well enough for them. Take all the math competitions (amc, math bowl) for extra credit. You’ll need it” Ashwin Natampalli (Alumni, Berkeley)

“students complain that they understand the concepts but don’t have enough time to finish the test. it’s a big jump from cp precalc, but if you put in the work you’ll be okay.” Ms. Chung

AP Chinese (or any language)

“Reminder: you need to finish Chinese 4 if you want to not take language in college (depends on which college though [and whether or not you take the exam]). Finish Chinese 3 if you want to get into a UC, and Chinese 2 if you want to graduate. Irvington doesn’t give AP test spots unless you’re enrolled in the class because our school loves not making sense! It’s very hard to take the AP Chinese test unless you’re in the class.” Chloe Retika

AP English Language

“I think AP English is one of the more unfair classes; it’s hard to teach somebody how to write if they can’t write in the first place, but you need to take AP Eng if you want to take AP Lit because the required reading is referred to a lot in ap lit. O’connor tests were mainly vocabulary (memorization) and the essays focused on passage analysis.” Chloe Retika

AP English Literature

“My favorite teacher for APs has been Mrs. Halford for AP English Literature. Although she assigns a lot of work, her lectures are really interesting. She teaches you not just about literature but also about the human condition by intertwining psychology and philosophy.” Jonathan Cheng (12)

“This class is insane. Take it. You’re going to learn so much about the world. We’re either learning about vision, racism, pride, sex, rape culture, love, or throwing dead leaves into the air bc hallford found them in her backyard and thought they were pretty. Everything Hallford does or says, every time Hallford breathes, it’s a symbol. Very essay heavy (60% of your grade). You’re going to learn how to see the world, and that macrocosm will inform your god damn microcosm. Don’t worry, no one else knows what’s going on in this class either.” Chloe Retika (UCLA)

“Take it. It’ll change your life. You’ll walk in thinking one thing and walk out realizing that you actually don’t know how to speak English at all. You’ll talk about metaphorical male menstrual cycles. You’ll suffer, and Hallford will suffer RIGHT ALONGSIDE YOU!! She’ll call you out. She’ll teach you the world and how to rule it, and it’ll be so incredibly ridiculous that when you walk out at the end of the day with your head impossibly stuffed with a million new perspectives, you’ll think—wait, did that just happen?” Riya Kataria (Alumni, Oxford)

AP Environmental Science

“There are very few tests (probably 2-3) plus the final, so don’t screw up or else your grade is dead. The class is like part lecture where she goes super specific about one topic (like you need to know scientific names) and shows videos and stuff, and then part project where you actually go outside and do “labs” or try to influence the rest of the school to be more environmentally friendly. Anand is generally super nice in class though.” Alicia Yang (Alumni, Columbia)

“Really reconsider your life if you’re planning to take this class.” Ankur Samanta

AP Government

“I actually don’t know why I took this class. It’s nothing like APUSH. I guess you’ll learn about government structure, but it’s mainly been a free period for me (so free ap credit! better than cp and not getting credit)” Chloe Retika

AP Physics

“It is hard. there is no doubt there. you will suffer. but to do well in the class you just need to suffer less than the other people because your grade is essentially dependent on how much better you can do than the average because he curves all tests. but Kumar knows what he’s talking about; he presents it in a way that makes it easier to understand and makes up the curriculum and lesson plan as he sees fit. don’t complain about spending a whole day on one concept if you have questions.” Abhay Thacker (Alumni, UC Davis)

AP US History

-tests: only 9 (4 sem 1, 5 sem 2), approx 1 every 2.5 weeks

-hw: chapter notes weekly (1.5-2.5 hours)

“unpopular opinion: I really liked APUSH. I did all the handwritten notes like a nerd and still had time to go out and get boba so you’ll be okay. APUSH presents the frameworks of society, analyzes growth, and teachers you MORALS (equality, equity, justice, respect). Class requires specific memorization (dates for evidence) and focuses more on trends and overarching themes. Do not take apush if you don’t want to.” Chloe Retika

AP Psych

-tests: once every 2.5 weeks

-homework: 30-40 minutes whenever assigned (notes)

“Please, please take this class. I’m begging you, you’re going to learn incredible amounts about yourself. Faitel has an ap cap (meaning you can ONLY take ap psych + 2 other ap classes senior year), but it’s so worth it. You’ll learn about this disorder that causes the individual to be unable to see anything moving, and you’ll learn how to classically condition your piano students to listen to you like I did. Faitel is by far my most favorite teacher because you’re going to actually LEARN. Tests are very easy if you pay attention and study.” Chloe Retika

AP Stats

“My favorite class was probably AP Stats because there’s a lot of real world applications, and I found it really interesting. I would say it’s a pretty chill class as well.” Jonathan Cheng (12)

“AP stats is not math. It’s like 5% math and 95% writing/explaining/analysis. The content is boring at first because it’s kind of basic, but it gets interesting as the year goes on, and again Mr. Ip is probably the MOST chill teacher on campus; he understands your problems and will accommodate things for you if you reach out. Honestly, you can usually teach yourself the lesson using his power point.” Abhay Thacker (Alumni, UC Davis)

Final Word

“It is possible as a junior to take 3 APs and have a 4.0, a sport, a 10-hour work week, church commitments, and competitive extracurriculars with a social life. not the brightest student but i hope you’ll understand that hard work, not freaking cheating on every test, pays off.

Irvington’s AP classes are basically equivalent to playing roulette. you either get the teacher who teaches or the teacher who doesn’t and still overloads you with work. This is from my SUBJECTIVE experience only.

Take classes in subjects you are interested and passionate about. 

Hope it helps!”

Huge thanks to Chloe Retika for putting together all these interviews.