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Post-AP Classes: What Are They and Who Takes Them?

Senior Marina Hashim observes her culture plates of nutrient gel in post-AP biology.
Photo: Sydnie Jiang

As many high school students get older, it seems as though their lives are centered around Advanced Placement classes. It’s all about how many AP classes someone should take, and when spring comes around, it’s about preparing for the AP exams. But what happens when a student, for example, takes AP Spanish their junior year? What should they do for their senior year?

Some students might drop that subject and pick up another AP their senior year, but others choose to continue on the track and take the post-AP class offered. A post-AP has more freedom than the typical AP class because there is no standard national exam at the end of the year. Instead, students typically take these classes out of genuine interest. “I chose to take post-AP bio because it tailors to my interests,” said senior Marina Hashim. “I’m interested in doing research in college, and I feel that this class gives me the right exposure.”

A post-AP counts as an Honors class, and it is usually offered for the language and science courses for seniors. There is a post-AP class for Latin, French, Spanish, biology and computer science. “In post-AP Latin, we do a lot of translations, but it’s more relaxed than AP Latin,” said senior Ben Thompson.

In post-AP Spanish, students explore stories, films and poems from different literary movements and styles. They are able to learn about these literary movements from a variety of different perspectives, while also learning a lot about the cultural aspect of the period they’re studying. In post-AP French, the students learn about French history from Julius Caesar all the way to the present time. The post-AP computer science class is called data structures, where the students learn data structures and algorithms that are used in computers.

In the post-AP biology class, students are free to research any topic they desire, as long as it is approved by biology teacher Dr. Kaylan Haizlip. Students design their own experiments, including the methods and materials, while still working alongside Dr. Haizlip. “The best part of this class is that we get to be so independent,” said senior Anna Stone. “I also like how we can collaborate together when we need help. There’s only five of us in this class.”

Chemistry teacher Julie Hall used to teach a post-AP chemistry class, which involved students helping her prepare labs for her AP chemistry class while also doing new labs that they didn’t get to do when they took chemistry. In contrast with biology, the students didn’t get to create their own experiments because chemicals can be very dangerous, and so they had to follow a lot of rules, which can put a limit on creativity.

“I taught this class in the past, and I would love to teach it again,” said Mrs. Hall. “If students approached me wanting to take post-AP chemistry, I would be all for it, as long as my schedule works out.” Teachers’ schedules are what makes some post-APs not possible because the teachers themselves are so busy with their classes for underclassmen.