# The most difficult class

September 27, 2016

Jr. Tess Monahan sits in her room quietly, finishing her AP Chemistry homework. She’s been working for an hour and a half every night for the past week on AP Chemistry alone. Most students who have taken advanced placement courses will mention one of three classes as the hardest class at West Ottawa: AP Physics, AP Chemistry, or AP Calculus BC. These three classes are in the debate for the hardest class at WO, ultimately, West Ottawans agree that there is one clear winner.

The level of difficulty of AP Chemistry helps single itself out as one of the hardest classes at WO.

“The content is freshman college chemistry, and it goes at a pretty quick pace. So there’s a lot of material that we have to go over in that amount of time… there’s a lot of abstract concepts about the atoms and molecules that you [students] have to visualize,” AP Chemistry Instructor Kelly Dewitt said. On average, a student needs to spend a half hour to an hour a night on AP Chemistry to score well on the AP test in May, Dewitt explained. Jr. Isaac Sierra has taken all three AP classes that are in discussion for the hardest class at WO. “AP Chemistry was very challenging for me personally, the content kept getting harder and harder as the year went on,” said Sierra. With the rigorous content moving at a fast pace, AP Chemistry proves to be one challenging class. But is it the most difficult class?

It’s no surprise that the highest level math class that WO has to offer has reached the discussion on whether it is the most difficult class at WO. In order to take AP Calculus BC, four other high school math classes are required before a student is eligible. “It’s advanced math and I actually get kids to start thinking about why the math works, not just how to do the math, and actually start digging into why it works that way. So using that abstract reasoning and starting to think about concepts, bigger picture concepts, is harder for kids when they just want the one way to do it and get the answer,” AP Calculus BC instructor Shanna Meyer said.AP Calculus BC is the most difficult class at WO according to Dewitt. Dewitt believes that the class is more abstract and harder to understand than AP Chemistry and AP Physics C.

Although AP Physics is a class registered under science, the class is calculus based, which makes it extremely difficult. Not only is it heavily math based, but applying the concepts that are taught is arduous. “I think that what makes the class hard is that it is an application of the class. Memorizing material will not get you an A. Being able to to take the mathematical or conceptual information and apply it to new situations or problems you haven’t seen is the goal of the class. Knowing when to use calculus in a problem, or just algebra, is tough for students in the beginning of the year,” said Instructor Cherylyn Weyhmiller said.

AP Physics is so difficult that Meyer, the AP Calculus BC teacher, believes it’s the hardest class at WO. “The hardest class is AP Physics. Calc based physics, because it takes all the calculus stuff, mixed in with all the physics concepts and I know that Calc based physics you have to know some of the really advanced Calc material that we do in here before you even start in physics… having to have all that background knowledge solidified before you even start [AP] physics,” Meyer said.

“I personally think AP physics is the hardest class at West Ottawa. You need to know everything that AP Calculus teaches, along with new real-world concepts in physics; the class is extremely challenging,” Sierra said. Sierra took AP Physics, AP Calculus BC, and AP Chemistry and found AP Physics to be the most challenging. AP Physics requires all high school math classes to be completed, as well as biology and chemistry; that’s a total of 5 prerequisite classes. It is also strongly recommended that students take or have taken AP Calculus BC because the class is so Calculus based.

Sierra hit the nail on the head when deciding what the hardest class at WO is. When looking to sign up for a challenging class, AP Physics, AP Chemistry, and AP Calculus BC are all great choices; however, the greatest challenge between the three of them is AP Physics.

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