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Class Tips

Leo Rassieur

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        As students begin the process of choosing classes for next year, it is helpful to see what current students have to say about their experiences this year. Below are nine students’ responses about what they took away from a variety of classes.

 

Sohan Vichare — AP US HISTORY

What is the most difficult aspect of the class?

Two things: first of all, the writing. It takes a while to get the feel of what each teacher wants. And then it’s timed, too, so you need to be able to write a bunch of stuff in a short amount of time, and tie together a lot of context and information. So you need to be on top of your game. If you’re not, then you lose a lot of points. Also, it’s graded by unit, so the way it is graded is tough. If you mess up on a quiz, it can tank your grade for one unit and significantly affect your grade. If you screw up on one unit, you can lose all chance of getting the grade you want.

 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of the class?

The mind-blowing, insane knowledge that our teachers drop on us every day! AP US History is the reason I come to school. It makes my heart leap out of my body and [allows me to] experience a level of academic exhilaration that no other class can give me.

 

Is there anything about the class which surprised you?

The multiple-choice questions. I thought, walking into the test, it would be very easy, and I would ace it. It would be no problem, right? Guaranteed 25%, and you can work up from there. But it turns out the multiple choice questions are the vaguest things ever. There will be four questions that are all correct in some way. You just need to guess which one [the teachers] want. Sometimes you are wrong, and sometimes you are right. They manage to make vague, interpretable multiple-choice questions.

 

What advice would you give people planning to take the class next year?

You have to like history. That’s probably pretty important. You have to be good at writing. Take that class if you want to have your mind blown by insane knowledge bombs every day.

 

Shivani Maisuria — Gov/Econ

What is the most difficult aspect of the class?

       We get these big packets—we got about four of them in the first semester — the hardest part is just learning all of that stuff in the packet. The thing that makes it easier is that we learn it little by a little, and the teachers make it easy to learn. In a way, you get to see what you’re going to do ahead of time. You think it’s so much, but by the end of the unit you realize it’s not that bad.

 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of the class?

Mr. Morse is just a really funny guy, and he always rambles on about stories, and we also have these projects that we do. There’s something called Morseville — you buy houses, and they cost different amounts, and you have to pay a certain amount each month, and you get a salary and everything. It’s a bit of friendly competition, and it’s a lot of fun.

 

Is there anything about the class which surprised you?

For me, US History was really boring. I didn’t expect [Gov/Econ] to be a lot of fun. I don’t like history. I do not like anything having to do with economics, or business. I really was surprised by how much fun I have in that class, [with] Mr. Morse’s stories, how he teaches and the whole mixture of projects.

 

What advice would you give people planning to take the class next year?

The advice I would give is to not treat it like a class you don’t have to do anything for. But if you’re taking it because you don’t want to take AP Gov/Econ, I would say it’s a really good class to balance out your schedule. If I was taking AP Gov/Econ, I would probably not even be alive right now. We mostly don’t have homework, and the days we do it’s not that much. If you need a breather from your AP classes, Gov/Econ is the way to go. Also, don’t call it “Regular Econ” because Mr. Morse will get mad at you!

 

Millen Fan — VMC

What is the most difficult aspect of the class?

For people that are not really performance-oriented, there are a lot of times in which we have to come out in front of the class and do some sort of monologue or performance with our classmates. For people who are more shy or stray away from public speaking, especially for the slam poetry unit, I feel like it might be difficult for most people.

 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of the class?

The creative writing aspect is something that I have always enjoyed. The class promotes it for a lot of students. Again, because they set guides and regulations at the very beginning, but by the end of the unit, they let you write whatever you want and perform whatever you want. So that kind of freedom is something that I really enjoy.

 

Is there anything about the class which surprised you?

The classwork in VMC fluctuates a lot, so there will be some weeks when you just barely have any work, and some weeks when you feel like you are kind of slammed. So that is something that took me a little bit by surprise. In order to compensate for that, you just always have to be ready.

 

What advice would you give people planning to take the class next year?

It is whether or not you are ready to be performing in front of your class. Because if you are not, you have to think about whether or not you want to take the class. And if you are, then I think it is a fine class for you to take.

 

Emily Lou — AP Calculus BC

What is the most difficult aspect of the class?

Not procrastinating on homework, and having the mindset to just do problems on your own and actually understand the concepts.

 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of the class?

Definitely that moment where you’re like “Oh, I actually understand the concepts,” and especially after spending two to three hours, or even more, like five to six hours, on just one chapter. But then you finally have that “I understand” moment.

 

Is there anything about the class which surprised you?

Definitely the lack of homework load. The load is a lot less than I expected it to be, but a lot of it has to be self-enforced.

 

What advice would you give people planning to take the class next year?

For people taking the class next year, you guys should definitely develop your critical thinking skills and think outside the box. And do your homework on time. Don’t sleep in class!

 

Jasmine Li — Physics Honors

What is the most difficult aspect of the class?

I think for me and a lot of other students, it is how mathematical physics is. We all expect physics will be formulas and applying math to the real world and whatnot, but it’s actually kind of challenging when you have to do problems with it, know all the formulas and be able to apply different formulas to different scenarios. So I feel like that’s more challenging for a lot of students.

 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of the class?

My teacher Mr. Chan does a lot of things to make class enjoyable for us, or kind of lighthearted. For instance, recently we’ve been learning about wavelengths and he brought a ukulele to play for us and show us the different wavelengths and the different tones and overtones of the strings. He’ll just do a bunch of little things like that to make the class a little more enjoyable for us.

 

Is there anything about the class which surprised you?

It was surprising how many real-world situations we learned about, and how it applied to pop culture. We would watch movies where different aspects of physics were used.

 

What advice would you give people planning to take the class next year?

I know a lot of people primarily take it because it’s an easier science course; to be an easier class in a heavier load, which is kind of what I did. But you also do get a lot out of the class, and you learn from a lot of real world situations, and I think that’s very helpful.

 

Timothy Robinson — AP Environmental Science

What is the most difficult aspect of the class?

The class is relatively new, and because of that the curriculum is not one-hundred percent set in stone, so everything is constantly changing. Some weeks you might have a tons of homework, and some weeks you might have no homework at all. You never know what to expect and you just have to take what is coming at you.

 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of the class?

I think that the entire topic of environmental science is interesting and is very relevant to the world. That is one of the main reasons why I actually took the class.

 

Is there anything about the class which surprised you?

The labs seem to be very easy in comparison to the labs we did in AP Chemistry, and that surprised me because [AP Environmental Science] is an AP class, so I expected it to be the same level of difficulty with labs. But it is a very different topic and [AP Chemistry] is more lab-based.

 

What advice would you give people planning to take the class next year?

Have a flexible schedule, because sometimes you are going to have maybe one or two hours of work and sometimes you might have zero minutes of work!

 

Tiffany Hu— Math Analysis

What is the most difficult aspect of the class?

Occasionally, there will be one or two tests that would have questions that we had never seen before.

 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of the class?

Our teacher gives us extra credit if we dress up for homecoming or spirit weeks. So it’s a fun-oriented class.

 

Is there anything about the class which surprised you?

It’s not the easiest class, actually, when you progress further into the year. In the beginning, you’re like “I know all of this,” but when you get to the second semester and get back into Algebra 2, you’re like “I completely forgot everything!” You have to relearn a lot of stuff.

 

What advice would you give people planning to take the class next year?

Review all of your Algebra 2 stuff. Otherwise when you get into the second semester you’re like “I’m getting an F on this test!”

 

Elaine Mai — Cooking

What is the most difficult aspect of the class?

The most difficult aspect of the class is probably getting along with people you’ve never worked with before.

 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of the class?

The food! I mean, working with new people is also fun, I guess. I enjoy cooking; it’s relaxing for me.

 

Is there anything about the class which surprised you?

There are a surprising number of people who won’t do their share of the work! Like washing the dishes. We had an ice cream party and that was fun.

 

What advice would you give people planning to take the class next year?

Do your share of the dishes! Also make sure that you’re a people person.

 

Allison Windham — British Literature

What is the most difficult aspect of the class?

Personally, I did not really enjoy writing the Frankenstein essay. It was really hard to put my opinion on a piece of paper. But [Mrs. Vernon] and the classmates you get are really helpful and real with you.

 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of the class?

I think there are a lot of things that are enjoyable about the class. I really like Mrs. Vernon — she’s really funny, smart and talented about what she’s teaching. She’s one of those teachers who you are really gonna enjoy having. And even if I do not like the book, it is [a] passionate hatred. So you really like all the books you read. You get to read a comedy, which is nice because so many of the books that you read throughout high school are so depressing. You read a lot of books that make you think. There is a lot of variety, even if it’s all British literature. You get a wide variety in what you do with the books.

 

Is there anything about the class which surprised you?

There are so many different types of people in the class. We have about six juniors, we have some people who are taking the class because their families are British and they want to learn more about [Britain]. We have seniors who are just interested in it, or who took American Literature Honors and didn’t want to take AP Literature but still wanted to take a class that wasn’t really simple. So you get such a wide variety of people that you’re bound to find somebody that you can connect with well, especially because in the class there are certain occasions where you get to pick your own seats, say for a socratic seminar for a book. We get to pick our groups for that so that we’re comfortable talking to them. So you get to meet a wide variety of people, and I didn’t expect that. I expected it to be a whole bunch of drama kids, who were like “we’re reading plays!”

 

What advice would you give people planning to take the class next year?

If you’re planning on taking the class, you just need to be willing, because at the beginning of the year you need to learn where things are in the United Kingdom. You get to learn a little about the history of it, which is really nice. I really enjoyed that, but that’s just me being a history buff. So you have to be really willing to do what the teacher wants you to do, because it’s not like your average American Literature or VMC class. We don’t have many writing assignments — it’s a wide variety [of assignment types]. Sometimes we’ll do a skit, or sometimes we’ll do a socratic seminar, or sometimes we’ll do an essay. But even though we don’t do that much writing, your wiring improves a lot. So if that’s something that you want to do, then it’s good [to take] the class. And that’s just something that you need to be willing to work on because it’s just going to have to happen.

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