College Board takes AP courses down a new route

Starting last year, the CollegeBoard has been revising the advanced placement curriculum. Courses such as AP Chemistry and AP Spanish Language and Culture have already changed for the upcomming May 2014 AP examination.  AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based, AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based, and AP U.S. History will be adjusted for the May 2015 AP exam.  AP Art History and AP European History will be modified for the May 2016 AP exam.

For insight into what the upcoming changes may bring, one can look at the alterations in AP Chemistry and AP Spanish Language and Culture courses.  The AP Chemistry course has been revised to focus on the quantitative and conceptual parts of chemistry.  It is modified so that the understanding of analytical and reasoning skills are essential to the exam. The AP Spanish Language and Culture Course has been revised so that national standards such as communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities are integrated.

“My AP Chemistry class and Mr. Carmody, my teacher, are not yet sure of the effects of the change,” said junior Olivia Kalash.  “It’s something that we are all learning together, and hopefully it limits the amount of stress put onto students for the AP exam in May.”

“We can spend more time in AP Spanish Language focusing on the fewer stories we read instead of cramming in a million different things,” said senior Alia Sani.

US History is a popular AP that will change next school year. On previous AP US History exams the content varied from different time periods, providing flexibility on these examinations.  However, the lack of specificity on what was considered “important” made the teachers unsure of what to emphasize in their classes.  The new AP US History curriculum will focus more on what students specifically need to succeed on the AP exam.  The College Board will emphasize early and recent US History and deemphasize parts of the 19th century. Additionally, multiple-choice questions will have four choices instead of five.

The multiple-choice section will consist of 55 questions instead of 80, replacing the extra 35 with short answer questions.

This will give teachers the flexibility of being able to go into more detail on the parts that will be included the most on the exam.

“While many teachers at the recent AP US conferences suspected this would make the APUSH examination easier, the College Board insisted that the difficulty would remain the same,” said social studies teacher Mr. Andrew Vinella.  “The reality is at this time, it is too soon to determine if the difficulty will increase or decrease.”

“I’m sure that these changes for next year will benefit many stressed students in a positive way, myself being one of them, hopefully,” said sophomore Sydney Levy.

Many students and teachers have different opinions regarding the AP course changes.  Some students currently taking the AP classes find it unfair, while others who are going to be taking these AP classes in the future are more than satisfied with the changes that are being made.

“I think it is unfair to the students taking AP European History right now because the students who will be taking it in the future won’t have to spend as much time and put in as much effort as we do now,” said sophomore Aliza Herz.

“It frustrates me that it’s going to be changed the year after I take the course as opposed to this year because I work really hard in AP Euro,” said sophomore Carly Lanskowsky. “I don’t think kids will have the same experience I have in the class now.”