Teachers explain how to know if you’re ready for an AP class

Gnally Boukar, Reporter

According to the College Board, Advanced Placement (AP) classes offer high school students college-level curriculum and exams to earn college credit. Among Bellevue West high school’s variety of course options, there are several classes that offer the choice to take AP.  Most core subjects have an AP class, with a couple in computer science. 

There are several AP social studies classes available for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. They vary from college-level history classes to more elective style social studies. One course that is offered to juniors and seniors is AP Psychology.  

Psychology teacher Robin Kratina said she believes students with good time management skills tend to do better than students who tend to put reading off until the last minute. Kratina also said she believes that the number one thing a student should be is curiosity. 

“So at the end of the class here’s what I hope, kids have a better understanding of being able to see behavior, take it in, explain it to themselves without creating/having a decision about who the person is and being able to understand their behavior,” Kratina said. 

There are three AP math classes offered for students all across the board, including AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, and AP Statistics. AP Stats teacher Jacob Eitzen said that he believes in order to be good at an AP math you don’t need to be a strong math person, but rather someone who is committed to working hard. 

“I think the overall benefits of taking an AP class are you get college experience in a high school setting,” Eitzen said. “You get to experience what a rigorous classroom environment may be like.” 

Eitzen said he believes in any AP class, students should be organized and have the willingness to fail. Students new to AP may not be used to the heavier workload and expectations that come with an AP class, however, Eitzen believes that establishing early on that there’s a certain level of effort you have to have in order to succeed in the class will help. 

“I think the longer I teach AP, as long as a student is committed to working hard they don’t necessarily need to be a strong math person, or strong history person, or a strong English person,” Eitzen said. “As long as somebody is committed to working really hard and it’s something that they’re passionate about they can do well.”

AP Biology teacher Christine Hecht echoed Eitzen’s statements, saying she believes that a hard work ethic and not giving up at the first bump is important. Hecht said her favorite part of teaching the class is how in-depth the course can go. She said one of the harder things about the course can be the level of thinking students need. 

“In some of our regular classes, quite a bit of the tests are memorization-based like ‘can you remember this term’ while as in AP classes is a lot of analyzing and synthesizing information and that tends to be a step up for students,” Hecht said.

English also offers an AP courses for upcoming juniors and seniors. According to sophomore English teacher Jody Petrow, the difference between English 10 Advanced and the two AP courses offered is the focus on nonfiction in AP Language and Composition (AP English 11) and the deeper focus on literature in AP Literature and Composition (AP English 12). 

Petrow said the first thing she’s concerned about for students taking AP is their writing abilities. According to Petrow, AP English 11 and AP English 12 focus more on timed writing not traditionally done in an English 9 or English 10 class, however she said she believes it’s worth it. 

“I think taking AP classes in general is awesome because it helps you be better prepared for college, it helps you get into college, and it helps you pay for college,” Petrow said.  “If you’re getting credit for any college classes at all in high school you’re saving yourself money down the line and college is horrifically expensive.”

Courses offered at Bellevue West:


AP Statistics, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC


AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition

Social Studies

AP United States Government and Politics, AP United States History, AP Psychology, AP World History


AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2

Computer Science

AP Computer Science Principles, AP Computer Science