AP chemistry

Literally every year without fail, I get asked the question by students, "Should I take AP chemistry next year?"  And I always respond with 

I don't know. How crazy are you?

But seriously, why would anyone take a course that is reported to be one of the most difficult courses a student will take in high school?

The most obvious answers might be because you either liked honors chemistry last year (And really.... you should have taken honors chemistry the previous year.) or you plan to major in chemistry in college or have a career in the medicine or science.  Of course, those are very sound reasons to take AP chemistry.

But maybe there is another reason to take AP chemistry that you have not thought of.  Below are some reasons that I believe are good enough to take AP chemistry, even if you aren't planning to major in chemistry or have anything to do with science at all in the future.  

You're interested in challenging yourself

Ok, first, stop laughing.  Second, a disclaimer: If you're the student who struggles in every class--with homework, class work, tests, projects, time management--maybe AP is not a course you want on your plate. But if you've performed reasonably well in math and science courses in the past and are now looking for an extra level of challenge, AP chemistry is definitely for you!  

But really, why would you do this to yourself?  Well, the answer might be that you are interested in knowing how great you can be.  You're interesting in knowing where your "ceiling" is.  You're interested in knowing what to expect in college so as to mentally prepare yourself.  

So you might be thinking, "Aren't there other AP courses which with to challenge myself?" The answer of course is that there are many other AP courses to take Nyack H.S. But few of them offer the same level of challenge as AP chemistry.  And if you can be successful in AP chemistry, you are likely to be successful in virtually any course you will take in college.

It presents well on a college transcript

Now I would never suggest taking any course merely because you might believe it looks goods on a transcript. That said, colleges are influenced by the rigor of the courses a student has taken when making admissions decisions.1  And they certainly understand how difficult AP chemistry can be. Electing to take a notably more difficult course demonstrates a willingness to take on greater challenges.  It also shows a level of maturity that few high school students demonstrate. So if you have any predilection towards taking the course, it might be a good idea.

You want to develop your critical-thinking/problem-solving skills

Problem solving and critical-thinking skills are indispensable to the "scientific method".  AP chemistry students utilize these skills everyday.  Frankly, there is never a time during any class period when AP chemistry students are not solving some kind of problem.  And problem solving literally changes your brain!  In fact, problem solving allows the participant to become better able to manage anxiety.Furthermore, engaging in problem-solving tasks "rewires" your brain to make greater neural connections.3 In short, current brain research seems to indicate that engaging in problem-solving activities improves our brains.

Whatever reasons you have for taking AP chemistry, you will undoubtedly enjoy the course.  Don't take my word for it. Talk to other students who have taken it over the years.


1.https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/choosing-high-school-classes

2.https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2017/11/20/problem-solving-gives-the-brain-a-buffer-against-anxiety-according-to-new-study/#4b289f9be338

2.https://academic.oup.com/cercor/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/cercor/bhx304/4637600?redirectedFrom=fulltext

3.http://news.mit.edu/2015/brain-strengthen-connections-between-neurons-1118

Last modified: Sunday, September 23, 2018, 10:57 AM