Should I Take: AP Biology?


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Photo Credit: Rodion Kutsaev

Abbey Kester

When you hear the words, “AP Biology,” are you instantly filled with fear? Nerves? Or are you just filled with the feeling like you don’t know what you are getting yourself into?

As someone who is currently taking the class, I can tell you that it is not that bad. Many people exaggerate the difficulty level of the class. So just how difficult is AP Biology in actuality?

That being said, the class is not always for everyone. Junior Becki Meyer took the class last year, and when asked if she enjoyed the class, her response was a simple “Nope. Not at all!

“[T]he core concepts are much easier than they were originally made out to be.”

Do not be discouraged by this! Jack Vanauker, a sophomore currently enrolled, stated that he enjoys the class. When asked what was easier than he expected, he said, “the core concepts are much easier than they were originally made out to be.”

AP Biology gives you eight college credits, four for BIO 101 and four for BIO 102.

If you are one of those who worries intensely about grades, you can breathe a bit easier. The class has a fifteen-point grading scale, meaning that a grade of A equates to a 100% to an 85%, a B an 84% to 70%, a C a 69% to 55%, and so on. But a more flexible grading scale is not the only rewarding thing the class offers. AP Biology is also a dual credit class. “What is a dual credit class?”, you might ask.  Well, a dual credit class is where students are enrolled at both Aloha and at Portland Community College — for free! Dual credit allows students to receive college credit without having to take a national exam in May. Being a PCC student allows you to have access to many of their facilities such as their tutoring centers and libraries, as well as student discounts at various businesses. Students enroll in PCC about halfway through the year, and your grade in the class is the same grade you receive on your official PCC transcript. AP Biology gives you eight college credits, four for BIO 101 and four for BIO 102.

The coursework in AP Biology is mainly self-directed. Mrs. Swihart assigns Crash Course and Bozeman Science videos to watch nightly, as well as pages out of the Biozone workbook that she provides. Bozeman Science is a YouTube channel created by science teacher Paul Anderson who’s well-renown for his videos as well as his “flipped classroom” educational method, and the Biozone workbook is a supplemental workbook for AP Biology students. A largely independent student with a passion for science will thrive in this class. While Mrs. Swihart will help everyone in the class personally, the material isn’t easy and requires many hours of studying outside of the classroom. Fortunately, there are AP Biology tutors (who were former students from AP Biology) who can help students with their coursework during Access Tutorial in Mrs. Swihart’s classroom. However, this is a class that should not be a student’s first AP class.

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Photo Credit: Joanna Kosinska

The curriculum itself focuses on going in-depth on the biological processes of living organisms. Most of the curriculum is about the different inner workings of cells and how these cells affect the body in different ways. There’s a lot of vocabulary terms to learn, but it is not the primary focus of the class. One of the best ways to study is to focus on the POGILs that are done in class and pay very close attention to the assigned videos.

AP Biology is a fantastic choice for driven students who intend to pursue medicine, as it mimics the setting of a college classroom and also provides the aforementioned eight PCC credits. It’s a great class to have on your transcript as well! Mrs. Swihart also offers many opportunities to participate in lectures by famous scientists, internship opportunities, and field trips for those more interested in the biological sciences.

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