High School Schedule: Which AP Science?, etc.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by gregjp48, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. gregjp48 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    #1
    I'm going into junior year in hs, and am interested in eventually going to medschool. Due to a scheduling conflict, I could not fit health and computer sci (required for graduation) into junior year, so I'll have to take them senior year.

    This means I cannot take both AP Bio and AP/honors physics that year while keeping the other stuff i want. I really wanted to take AP Bio since I like Bio, but I've already taken biology this year (sophmore), and I heard physics is a prerequisite for many 6 year med programs and other things, and I'd rather not take any chances and kick myself later. Do I need physics for med, or can I just wait until undergrad to take it? I'm not too fond of physics, but you have to do what you have to do I guess.
    Here's my schedule for junior:

    H: Chamber Choir H
    Math Analysis H aka Pre-Calculus H
    Chemistry H
    French III H
    AP US History
    English 11 H
    Phys Ed, Christian Service, 3 frees
    Lab, 5 frees
    Prep Chorus H

    And Senior:

    H: AP Psychology
    AP Calculus AB
    AP English
    AP Physics (or Honors physics, or AP Bio?)
    Human Sex and Love -> Social Justice
    Phys Ed, Lab x3, 1 free a cycle
    Health -> Computer Science
    Anatomy & Physiology or Poetry -> 6 frees

    Prep Chorus H
    4 days ago - 1 day left for voting
    Additional Details

    4 days ago
    -> denotes two one semester courses
    H: is H period, which is like zero period, when only certain classes are offered.

    Did I make the right decisions? Taking both AP Bio and AP Physics at the same time would mean I had 1 free per 7 day cycle for the full year, something I would not appreciate with a rigorous AP schedule. I wanted to keep a full free (6 a cycle) open for half a year if I could. I'm torn between anatomy and poetry.
    Anatomy will eventually be my career, and would take the place of bio nicely, but it has a teacher people don't seem too fond of. Poetry, on the other hand, is also something I love, and the teacher is amazing, and everyone tells me to take that class. I wanted to take sociology and forensics but I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles. I could always opt for sociology -> forensics rather than AP Psych if I decided I really wanted it.

    My school really screwed me over. They made us take this "Advanced Physical Science" thing in Freshman year that was half year chem half year physics, and no credit for either. It was because too many people were coming in from catholic elementary schools with not enough science knowledge, so they were failing chemistry. What happened is we all then took bio sophmore year rather than freshman year, so are behind a year in science. Otherwise I could have already taken chem and be on my way to AP Bio Junior and then AP Physics Senior year.

    Is 4 APs too much? I'm pretty sure I can handle it, but will the sudden explosion of AP classes senior year make colleges think I'm only trying to impress them? I really don't want to convey that impression since I really am interested in the material, and most of the AP classes in my school are Senior courses. There's a sophmore, junior, senior year AP track of sciences (Bio, Chem, and Physics respectively), but I was apprehensive during course selection in the middle of freshman year, and now since I didn't take AP Biology, I can't take AP Chemistry junior year. For some reason it's a prerequisite. Then my school only has 6 periods a day (one drops per day), and one of those is taken up by religion, which is mandatory, really cutting into time for academics. Between those issues and the whole classes with only one section being at the same time, I'm starting to get annoyed with my school. Ugh.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #2
    Physics is required for many BS degrees, Certainly any kind of enginerring and most physical sciences. let alone getting into med school. Med school is competivie and you will need an A in Physics.

    I'd recommend the AP physics class because that is the best way to prepared for Physics 101 at the university. An HS AP physics class will cover maybe 1/2 the material you will see in physics 101 at the university and will give you an edge. Would be good if yo took AP calculus too in HS

    A bit of warning... Everyone that gets into a top university was a "mostly A" student in high school. But it is a mathmatical certainty that exactly half of those formmer A students will be below the median level of their fellow students in the university. Why say this? you need to prepare for a much higher level on competition. If you have to choose between two AP classes take the one in your weaker area
     
  3. arnette macrumors 6502

    arnette

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2002
    Location:
    Manhattan Beach
    #3
    Don't sweat it ... med school requirements are very lenient and you won't have a problem no matter what you take. You will probably need physics at the college level eventually.

    Take the course that you'll get better grades in (I would imagine bio if that's your interest). And keep in mind your ability to do well with the specific teacher... because that's alot of it too.
     
  4. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Chi Town
    #4
    Hey, I think that you're saying you're interested in combined Bachelor's/MD programs (most of which are seven years now, not six). I was in one of these, so I might be able to shed a little light.

    Here's my disclaimer, though. I took neither AP Bio nor AP Physics (my school didn't offer them). I did take Physics at a local university, though unfortunately the only one during the evening was a non-calculus-based course. I ended up taking the AP Physics C: Mechanics exam, but mostly just winging it, with only a little bit of studying. So I have a general sense of what the courses are and definitely an appreciation for how they are perceived at the college level, but that's about it.

    Now, it was quite some time ago (2002) when I was accepted, and things have likely changed. But back then, you were expected to take either AP Chemistry or AP Physics to be competitive. AB Bio wasn't given much credence, as it's supposed to be considerably easier than the other AP sciences.

    In fact, AP Physics will probably end up more useful to you in general. College credit (or at least placement) is granted for good AP Physics scores much more commonly than for good AP Bio scores. Fewer and fewer universities are honoring AP Bio. I don't think it's honored at my school, or if it is, it is honored only for the Biology for non-majors sequence, which when I was a freshman/sophomore was only offered during the summer and wasn't really considered real at all.

    My school is a little different from a lot, though, in making Organic Chemistry a pre-req for "real" introductory biology; at some other universities, biology is offered as a freshman course. I think in the latter arrangement, it's more likely that AP Bio would be accepted, because the Bio course itself is watered down. To be honest, to get a sufficient appreciation of biology, it is necessary to have a background in Organic Chemistry. If you want to make any real sense at all of Biochem, you need Orgo, and to really get how cell bio and molecular bio work, you need biochem. You can get away with a weak understanding of biochem to do a lot of physiology, but it'll eventually end up catching up to you.

    On the other hand, the material taught in AP Physics probably ends up covering more of what is covered in an introductory physics course in college (which is all you'll need for med school and to prepare for the MCAT).

    So my vote is that on a practical and pedagogical level, AP Physics will do you more good. It also probably looks marginally better to admissions committees, because it is harder.
     
  5. gregjp48 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    #5
    if AP Physics is that much harder, should I be worried about handling it along with AP Calc, English (Lit), and Psych?

    also I'm not really crazy sure about a 6/7/whatever year program sinc eI don't want to lock myself into med just jet. I have so many interests, and that's why I want all those classes. I might be better off going with a regular undergrad program, majoring in something like Psychology, and then taking the science courses along with it, and then the MCAT if I decide that's what I want.
     
  6. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Chi Town
    #6
    You should always keep your options open; there are a lot of ways to do that while still hedging your bets, if you want (see my aside below). It sounds like you have a pretty heavy load, and I'm so removed from high school that it's hard for me to remember how tough it is to juggle all of that. Also, my school didn't have all that many APs, so I can't quite appreciate the load you've got. You know how much you can handle and what your strengths and weaknesses are. AP Physics and Chemistry are definitely supposed to be harder than AP Bio. There are, as I mentioned in my previous post, advantages to going that route; but as far as getting into college (besides those combined programs), I doubt there is a huge difference. At more competitive universities, the big advantage is that AP Physics and Chemistry are more likely to "count" for getting placed out of stuff than AP Bio, which could free up your time.

    For instance, most people at my school take Organic Chemistry and Biology concurrently as sophomores (so when I said Orgo was a pre-req, I should have said pre-req/co-req). Now, I placed out of Gen Chem, so I took Orgo as a freshman (which was tough in itself because you're taking this hard class and trying to adjust to being in college). But I got a HUGE advantage out of it which was taking Bio by itself. Some of my friends had orgo and bio midterms the same week, whereas I only had one science class to take my sophomore year. It really saved me, because both orgo and bio are notoriously difficult at my school. So that's what advantage you could get in the future from picking the right AP courses.

    That said, if you're not a science major, you could likely spread things out more anyway. I had to have the pre-med courses done by the end of sophomore year so that I could fit in my bio major, but if you're a psych major, then the only hard science courses you have to take are the pre-med requirements.

    Now here's my aside: I just mentioned those combined programs since you mentioned them in your first post...It's quite logical not to do that, and I think if you're smart enough to get into one of those programs, then there's a good shot that if you don't blow it in college, you'll be competitive for med school anyway. The only note I'll make about those is that if you pick the right one, then you won't get locked in. My university's program, for instance, didn't lock you in. I actually ended up applying widely to other schools for MD/PhD programs, and did end up deciding to stay at my school and do an MD/PhD here for a variety of reasons, but the point was, I wasn't locked in at all.
     
  7. buffalo macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado Springs / Ohio
    #7
    Just to make sure I understand this correctly, you are trying to decide whether to take AP Biology and/or AP Physics your senior year...

    Personally, if I were going pre-med, I would probably take physics. I'm guessing you will have to take a biology class in college, so that would make AP Bio somewhat unnecessary, unless you want the practice.

    My junior year schedule (this past year) was:
    1. H. Precalculus
    2. CP English 11 (CP = college prep = level below honors = really easy)
    3. Español IV
    4. AP Biology
    5. AP Bio lab (meets every other day, e.g. every Wednesday, Friday, every other Monday... Tuesday, Thursday, and alternating Monday was a study hall)
    6. H. Physics
    7. AP European History

    My senior schedule will be:
    1. AP Calculus
    2. CP English 12 (don't want to take AP)
    3. Español V
    4. AP Physics
    5. AP Physics lab / AP Chemistry lab (again, lap periods switch each day)
    6. AP Chemistry
    7. National Issues (debate, current events... 1st sem) and AP Government (2nd sem)

    This will be one b**ch of a schedule, but it will be a good challenge, and gives me a good foundation for whatever I choose to do.
     
  8. aethelbert macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    Location:
    Chicago, IL, USA
    #8
    I'd take AP bio. I didn't take it in high school, rather I took Physics C (and E&M). But it seems like it relates more to your interests and your future area of study. I think that 4 APs in one year is fine. The more you take, the less you have to take in college (assuming that you do well on the exams). I had a hectic AP schedule in grades 11 and 12, but it paid off as I finished college in under 3 years. This is what I took, and I found that to be completely doable.

    11:
    -AP US history
    -AP English lit
    -Orchestra
    -AP Statistics
    -AP BC Calc
    -Spanish V
    -AP chem

    12:
    -AP Macro/microeconomics (1 semester each)
    -AP Government (1 sem) and German VI (2nd semester, I was already fluent and joined the class to prepare for the AP test)
    -AP English language
    -Spanish VI (also took AP test for this one)
    -AP Physics (C and E&M)
    -Orchestra
    -AP Euro

    I did well on all of my AP tests in those two years. Combined with the others that I took, I got 12 fives and 4 fours. It really does pay off to take as many as you can comfortably manage. Don't take them, though, if you feel that it'll be too much work. As for the freshman science class, we had something similar. It was a complete joke and people still failed it. I used it as nap time to relieve nostalgia from kindergarten.
     
  9. gregjp48 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    #9
    People failed mine too, but with every good reason. Ours was a waste of time, but it was far from easy if you were in one of the three(?) honors sections. We were doing stuff that seniors were doing in Honors/AP Physics, and we all passed the Chem regents (she wanted to see if we could do it, since her Juniors were having trouble, and then she was like, hey look, if my freshman can do it, you can do it!)
    I got an 88 full year in that class, but only because I screwed up the final which is worth 1/5 of the grade for the year (4 quarters + final averaged). All my other classes were mid to high 90s unweighted.
    And then the program was pretty new, so the regular and younger/new teachers didn't know how to teach it. Someone was actually fired over it.

    Now I'm tutoring APS to help those poor unfortunate souls.

    Oh, my school gives 4 points of weighting to honors classes and 6 I think now to AP classes when the final overall GPA is calculated. When colleges see the grades for the actual classes will they know that they are unweighted?

    Edit: The reason I want those APs is not only to look good on a resume, but because I am genuinely interested in the material, and I really think I can handle them. I feel so unstimulated mentally right now, so I feel like I'm not motivated and I slack off. I'm not living up to my full potential. I had the SAT II in Bio to study for this week, and it really motivated me, and now I feel like I actually learned something. I feel like AP classes would not make me feel like I'm wasting my time 5 days a week.

    ALSO:
    I had that introduction to physics in freshman year, but will going straight into AP Physics be difficult? If so, I could do honors physics instead. Would it look dumb for science to be the only subject without an AP if that's going to be my career (and possibly my major)?Would I be better off with AP Bio since I already had a year of biology? Maybe AP Chem senior year if Bio isn't good enough (though bio is what I am interested in)? I wish I could have had AP Chem junior year, but I didn't start my "trackless" school's AP track. Oops.
     
  10. svna91, Jul 16, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014

    svna91 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2008

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