AP classes at West


Samantha Makl

AP textbooks

Samantha Makl , Reporter

Students who are soon to be graduating high school and going into college may be wondering what AP is all about. AP courses are generally college classes that students can take in high school. 195 out of Iowa´s 365 school districts offered at least one AP course, according to the Iowa Department of Education. They are advanced placement classes that prepare students for college. If students get a 4 or a 5 on the exam, they don’t need to take that college class.

“Not every student should be expected to take an AP class, it should not be mandatory. But it’s a class that goes above and beyond its enrichment,” AP Calculus teacher Michelle Pearce said.

West provides 14 AP classes for students to take.

“We have a good variety of AP classes. We offer AP courses in language arts, math, science, social studies, art, and world languages,” administrator Mike Garnica said.

Some AP courses have requirements.

As stated in the West High course guide, “Students must demonstrate proficiency in reading, mathematics and science. Each high school develops its own criteria for student participation in these rigorous courses. Typically, courses are open to students in grades 10-12 who are in good academic standing.”

Some AP classes require students to take an advanced class before they are enrolled. For example, students need to take Advanced Writing before they are enrolled in AP English. There are also things students need to know before they go into the class.

“Understand that it is a college preparatory class. We are preparing them for what it is going to be like in college. It’s where students learn they need to start taking accountability for themselves.” Pearce said.

This year here at West High there has been a decrease of students taking AP classes.

“Social studies curriculum has shifted which has caused a drop in the numbers of students in AP social studies classes, and the different requirements of AP English has caused students to drop as well,” head counselor Erin Soedt said.

According to the Iowa Department of Education, about 15,000 students in Iowa were in at least one AP class last year and 6,607 of those students took at least one of the exams.

The final question is, do AP courses really prepare high school students for college?

“My daughter is a senior at the University of Iowa, she took AP English, AP Chemistry and AP Calculus. When I asked her what she would tell current WHS students, the first thing she said was ‘I would  tell them to take as many AP classes as possible because they really help prepare you for college,’” Garnica said.