Seniors offer advice on AP classes


Kate Siltman

Sign outside of an AP testing room

Kate Siltman, Management Editor

Many students have found that MHS has done an excellent job preparing its students for their desired future, particularly if the student’s end goal is making it into college with the best deal possible.

One of the best resources MHS has provided and encouraged students to do are Advanced Placement classes and exams. However, sometimes the sound of “AP” is intimidating and leaves students with the thoughts of “oh, I can’t do that” or “I’m not smart enough for that”.

For those on the fence about taking AP, take advice from the seniors, soon to be alumni, who have been through the trenches and have survived.

Q: What got you into taking an AP course in the first place? Why did you take AP classes?

  • Jasmine Cuasay: When I was an eighth grader picking out my classes for high school, I decided that I wanted to challenge myself academically, so I started off with taking AP World History my freshman year.
  • Isaid Salazar: Probably the challenge aspect– I like to challenge myself in school, so an AP course benefits me.
  • Kendall Wald: I knew they give college credits when getting a three or higher on tests, and that would save money for my family. I also like a challenge, and AP classes are exactly the challenge I needed for the last four years. They get me more prepared for college.
  • Mitchell Zaprzalka: Freshman year I think I took placement tests to go into AP World, and I just kind of figured to take it.


Q: What advice would you give to a student who is unsure about taking an AP course?

  • Cuasay: There’s a really big system of support within the classroom whether it be among students or between the student and the teacher…The purpose of an AP class isn’t for you to fail; it’s for you to develop good habits and become a better student. You also have to understand that there is a component for self- advocating; you have to motivate yourself most of the time to do your work. Most AP classes I’ve had weren’t classes I could sleep through and get an A. You have to earn it.
  • Salazar: I’d say don’t stress yourself out too much. Just find ways to calm yourself and let your mind be healthy. Give it all you got.
  • Wald: Don’t worry about taking AP classes. They are as much work as any normal class. The only difference is you go more in depth on the topics you learn about.
  • Zaprzalka: I recommend trying it. You never know unless you try. Plus, if you start it and get overwhelmed by how much work it seems to be or don’t think you have the time to do it, then changing classes [might be] possible at the start of the term.

Q: What are some benefits from taking an AP class?

  • Cuasay: AP classes have helped me understand that I can’t be so dependent on solely class material. There’s only so much time in class, and you’re bound to skip over material or not go deep enough into it to fully comprehend it. I had to learn a lot about how I learn best.
  • Salazar: You get more knowledge. It prepares you for the AP test. The skills you learn from those classes easily roll over to your non-AP classes, so that’s a bonus. It gives you a good feel of college classes and work load.
  • Wald: You get the chance to learn more on topics and get a feel for how college will be. You also get a chance at the end of the year to show what you learned and compared to other kids all over the nation.
  • Zaprzalka: Honestly, they help you learn to manage your time a lot, and they have the chance to get you college credit if you take it seriously and do well in it. It’s fast and can be hard, but you can learn a lot, even stuff that isn’t about the class.

Q: What challenges come with taking an AP course, and how do you overcome them?

  • Cuasay: I think the biggest challenge was motivating myself to do my homework; that goes for any class, but in AP I feel that there is more homework. I’m still figuring out how to beat procrastination, and senioritis is totally not helping, but usually I find that once I get started on something, I’ll be able to finish it. Also, I can work well under pressure. I don’t like the feeling of turning in late work; I feel like I’m letting myself down, so I’ll always figure out a way to finish an assignment.
  • Salazar: Probably just that with our school’s schedule, the teachers have to cram a lot of material in a short time. I just ask my teachers for help and/or ask my friends.
  • Wald: You have to squeeze so much information in so little time, but you learn how to manage your time and what works best for you.
  • Zaprzalka: If you have too many at once or you have a lot of stuff going on, it can be difficult to manage when to do work. Some [classes] are less work-intensive than others, but it just takes time to get into the rhythm of things.

Q: What did you get most out of your AP class(es)?

  • Cuasay: I think that a lot of my STEM classes have helped me prepare for my future considering that I am going into engineering. I don’t feel like I’ve mastered any of the concepts, but I’m comfortable working with them and have the ability to recognize how to solve problems in those areas. When taking AP classes or picking them out, I think you should really consider what your interests are because it could end up being the foundation for your further studies.
  • Salazar: Better study skills and ways to manage my material. I’ve gotten better with test taking, for example, by using methods I learned in my AP classes.
  • Wald: I think AP Bio and AP Environmental science helped me most because that’s what I’m studying in college and planning to do something as a career in ecology.
  • Zaprzalka: I learned about myself and what works for me when doing homework, studying and generally how I learn best. If someone is serious about learning than it’s a good idea [for them] to take [an AP course].

Q: What’s the best advice you can give to someone who will prepare for an AP test in the future?

  • Cuasay: I think the most popular advice anyone could give, and most unpopular to follow, to someone preparing for a big test whether it be an AP or standardized is to start studying early. Get together with some buddies, get some snacks and just study. The earlier you start studying, the more time you have to relearn, or learn in some cases, material, the more time you have to retain the information– seriously it’s brain science.
  • Salazar: Get some review books but also don’t cram a bunch of information the day before the exam. Plan ahead to study in chunks, so you won’t get overwhelmed.
  • Wald: Get an AP book to review and go over all your notes. Also, go to review sessions.
  • Zaprzalka: If you want to do well, start studying early. The longer you wait to start, the more stressed you’ll put yourself under and the harder it will be. On the actual test day, try not to get overwhelmed and just stay calm; it’ll help you do a lot better.

Q: Any other comments and/or advice you would like to make about AP classes/testing?

  • Cuasay: I wouldn’t recommend taking an AP class only to boost your GPA. If that’s the only reason you’re taking an AP, then you’re not going to do well. If you lack the motivation to have interest in the subject matter, you’ll have a hard time understanding it…There are all sorts of resources to help you pass a class, but I think the whole point of an AP class is to learn things on a deeper level that you wouldn’t be able to do in a regular class. If you don’t understand something or if it feels like everything is going too fast and you’re overwhelmed, do not be afraid to take a minute and get help. I know it’s easier said than done, but you have to realize that you are in control of your education.
  • Salazar: Just realize that even if you do bad on the test, you’re still accomplishing something. AP is not meant to be easy; it’s always going to be rough. Just by taking the test alone, you’re really challenging yourself.
  • Wald: Good luck!
  • Zaprzalka: If you’re unsure about taking an AP class, then just try it. Even if you don’t get straight As because of an AP class, remember it’s designed to be hard. If you want to just learn a lot or more about one topic and there’s an AP class for it, then take it. You will get more from AP than the regular or honors one.