AP Language Presents New Challenge for Upperclassmen


Julia Sandquist

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Are AP classes helping or hurting Walpole High School students? First, to answer that question, one must know the main purpose of an AP class: to challenge students and give them a chance to dive dee per into a particular subject. However, it is also important that high schools offer AP courses because colleges look for students to take these classes during their high school careers. Sophomore Stina Cofsky said, “I feel students want to take more AP classes to increase their chance of being accepted into a prestigious college because nowadays, the simple things we enjoy about learning are just not good enough.” As the chances of getting into schools for students get smaller each year, the competition becomes greater, as colleges become more selective about the students they admit into their school.

The newest AP course added to Walpole High School curriculum, AP Language and Composition, will become available next school year for juniors and seniors. Seniors will have two AP courses to choose from next year: AP Language and AP Literature. Mr. Conor Cashman will teach AP Language for juniors, Ms. Kerry McMenimen will teach AP Language for seniors, and Ms. Lauren Culliton will teach AP Literature for seniors.

For current sophomores, participation in the AP Language course requires interested students to have an average grade of at least 90 for the first semester in Honors English. Also, they must take an exam consisting of multiple choice and essay questions to be considered eligible for the course. This course is meant for students who enjoy and excel at skills in grammar and syntax, and they should have strong skills in developing effective sentences and have a strong desire to improve their writing style. The course is an excellent option for sophomores who excel in Mr. Michael Alan’s English class; however, Cashman said, “It requires a lot of writing, so if students are unable to excel in Mr. Alan’s class, we want them to wait for senior year to take that AP English class.” Students should be highly motivated to achieve and prepare for the additional work that comes with taking AP Language.

In addition, the class is completely different from Junior Honors English. Cashman said, “Junior Honors is more focused on themes within British Literature, preparation for the SAT, and the art of persuasion. AP Language deals more with advanced types of writing for different audiences. While there will still be some literature included, it will not be the most primary element of class.” Undoubtedly, the new AP course provides a different type of challenge for students, for the main focus is placed upon writing rather than the traditional emphasis on thematic reading comprehension skills.

 Despite the positive aspects of adding an additional AP course to Walpole High, like giving students a challenge and allowing them to learn a vast amount of information about a subject, there exist several drawbacks.

Ambitious students already tackling many advanced placement courses are willing to pack in another AP class into their schedule because it looks exceptional on a college application. These courses require a lot of time, and for this reason, they can cause unnecessary stress. Sophomore Mary Healy said, “I usually spend an average of 5 hours a night doing homework for AP and Honors classes in addition to sports, drama, and extra-curricular activities.” With increased competition to get into colleges comes increased competition between students and grades in high schools. Ultimately, one must feel a true love for English and possess a desire to learn more about reading and writing to enroll in a challenging course such as the newly added AP Language class.