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9th grade--which AP courses is it okay or normal to take?

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I thought I almost had the schedule figured out for my ds for next year but it seems the more reading I do the more confused I get!

I had figured the only AP course I would plan for him to take his 9th grade year was AP Human Geog but I'm reading about 9th graders foregoing bio and doing AP bio and foregoing physics for AP physics. Now I'm confused and wondering about the general order of my science courses and what he should be planning to take. And also what other AP courses folks are tackling early in hschool.

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It is not normal or usual to take any. Most ninth graders who take the exams do poorly, as a whole.

 

AP Human Geography is one that is often cited as easier and taken in ninth grade. Some schools let their kids take it or AP World History in ninth.

 

Homeschooling is a different situation because advanced kids can take asynchronous classes or self-study. Still, we decided with the adjustment to high school that waiting would be better, and in hindsight, I am very glad we had no ninth grade APs. But we are not shooting for as many as possible, either, but rather choosing ones that fit with overall goals for high school learning and college prep.

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At the PS high schools in our district, the only typical AP class taken in 9th grade is AP Human Geography.  

 

AP classes that can be taken by 10th graders are AP World History, AP Psychology (Psychology I prerequisite), or AP Statistics (Algebra II prerequisite).

 

For AP Biology, Physical Science OR Biology Honors, PLUS Chemistry Honors are prerequisites.  Physics Honors, Chemistry Honors, OR AP Chemistry are prerequisites for AP Physics I, and AP Physics I is a prerequisite for AP Physics II.

 

We had no APs in 9th grade, but are looking into options for 1 or 2 APs for DS to take in 10th grade.

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My 9th grader is taking his very first AP as we speak! AP Comp Sci. After starting out Sept with only 1 AP class (AP HUG), we then added on 2 additional by November - AP Computer Science (through Edhesive.com) and AP Government and Politics (through Thinkwell). That is the way we're doing it with this particular kid as he is shooting for National AP Scholar by the end of 11th. But at our local PS, like SebastianCat said, 9th graders there can only take AP Human Geo. For 10th, we are taking AP Chem, AP USH, & AP Macro. But that's just us. I also understand AP Psychology is considered an 'easier' get-your-feet-wet AP - so my rising 8th grader will likely take that in her 9th grade year.

 

YMMV!

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I suggest the first AP, whatever year it is taken, be a subject area that the student finds genuinely interesting.

 

D took AP Human Geography as a ninth grader. She will be majoring in International Studies, Arabic, and Chinese in college after a gap year spent studying in Taiwan.

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Bear in mind that there are differences in difficulty among AP courses, not just between subjects but between different schools in the same subject.

At my kids' school, ninth graders usually take no APs.  Many take AP World History in 10th.  The school does not offer AP Human Geo.  The school's prerequisites for AP Bio are regular or honors bio and prior or concurrent enrollment in physics.  The school allows AP Physics 1 as a first physics course (honors physics; has a math prerequisite of honors alg 2 and trig).  Honors chem is a prerequisite to AP Chem.  (FWIW, this school has a fairly rigorous reputation.)

 

ETA, so for my oldest, the science sequence will be something like:  

9th, honors bio

10th, honors chem

11th, AP Physics 1

12th, AP bio or AP chem or AP physics C

Edited by wapiti
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Thanks everyone!  What you are saying goes well with what I was originally researching in regards to what colleges would be accustomed to seeing.  I originally was planning on trying to keep the transcript as close to what colleges would see from a stringent private school or high-rated public school, so I looked at what their course pathway looked like.  Then I got all confused when I saw people taking random AP courses very early on.  I think I'll stick with my original plan and have him take the AP courses early in the subject he's strongest in and then take it from there. 

 

You all give such wonderful feedback and it is SO very nice to have people who are forging the path before me.  Sure glad I'm not the one with the oldest kids on this forum! :laugh:

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I will second what luckymama said but also add that s lot of colleges don't give credit for AP human geography so unless your child is going into a field that needs it, don't bother with that.

 

Some of the 1 semester APs are easier if the student studies them over 1 year so like micro and macro economics, government and computer science.

 

Most schools only award 0.5 credits for them so it may be easier if spread out over a year for a 9th grader.

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This is definitely not normal, but this was my dd's AP schedule:

 

8th: AP CS A

9th: AP chem

10th: AP bio

11th: AP physics C, calc BC, english comp

12th:  ??? nothing?   

 

You certainly can take the AP sciences without having had the high school class prior.  It takes diligent study, but it's definitely doable.  My daughter had not taken any high school level chemistry or biology before tackling the AP versions.  

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We aren't taking APs for college credit. I don't think of that at all - not necessary in the slightest.

 

We do it (a) we are in CA, looking at UC schools, need to fulfill a-g requirements, AP tests do that (b) shows rigor and © shooting for national ap scholar or scholar w/distinction honor/award

 

for sciences, this is our plan:

9th grade - Bio SAT II subject test

10th grade - AP Chem

11th grade - AP physics

12th grade - maybe DE science based on interest

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DD is taking Human Geography next year as a ninth grader.  

 

DS took Physics B in 8th and Human Geo in 9th.  He also took AP Calc and both Physics Cs in 9th, but that is not normal.  Physics B is no longer offered.

 

Agree with Luckymama...make sure it is something in which the student is very interested.

 

 

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I would encourage you to figure out the intersection of your student's interests and abilities given where he is at now.  This is widely variable among students.  It is not terribly relevant what other schools do in each grade, provided you are able to accomplish the goals you have in mind throughout HS years. This is one of the coolest things about homeschooling.

 

In our experience, interest and motivation to do the work is decisive provided the ability level is there. Some students go straight to AP science courses.  Having a daughter who took all of them, I will say that is totally doable provided students are willing to do the work and keep up with the pace.  Some students want to do it and absolutely can.  Others really don't want to, and that's fine.  For us, it is finding that intersection for each of our kids and planning accordingly.

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I would encourage you to figure out the intersection of your student's interests and abilities given where he is at now.  This is widely variable among students.  It is not terribly relevant what other schools do in each grade, provided you are able to accomplish the goals you have in mind throughout HS years. This is one of the coolest things about homeschooling.

 

In our experience, interest and motivation to do the work is decisive provided the ability level is there. Some students go straight to AP science courses.  Having a daughter who took all of them, I will say that is totally doable provided students are willing to do the work and keep up with the pace.  Some students want to do it and absolutely can.  Others really don't want to, and that's fine.  For us, it is finding that intersection for each of our kids and planning accordingly.

 

And I'm not sure if it's been said in this thread, but taking the test is not required if the student doesn't seem ready.  By the same token, one doesn't need to take an official class to take the test.  Another cool thing about homeschooling - they have more time to self-study.

 

DS took 6 AP exams but only took one official class.  

Edited by lisabees
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And I'm not sure if it's been said in this thread, but taking the test is not required if the student doesn't seem ready.  By the same token, one doesn't need to take an official class to take the test.  Another cool thing about homeschooling - they have more time to self-study.

 

DS took 6 AP exams but only took one official class.  

 

Absolutely!  Thanks for adding this. Self-study buys you so much time... skip the busy work and go at your own pace! :)

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I suggest the first AP, whatever year it is taken, be a subject area that the student finds genuinely interesting.

 

D took AP Human Geography as a ninth grader. She will be majoring in International Studies, Arabic, and Chinese in college after a gap year spent studying in Taiwan.

I agree. My son did AP US Government as a ninth grader after completing an internship with the local office of one of the presidential candidates during the spring of 8th grade. His candidate got the party nomination, and he ended up spending three weeks on the other side of the country working in a battleground state during the fall. Edited by Frances
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Another thing I forgot to mention for everyone who would like to achieve National AP Scholar distinction prior to college app season (I think you need to take 8 APs and score 4 or 5), one way to accomplish this is to draft a list of AP courses that pair well in terms of your student and their time constraints.  There are the heavy hitting ones in terms of difficulty or in terms of time commitment (lots of essay writing, for example) that can be paired with others that are not as time-intensive.  Since we as home schoolers have the luxury of taking APs as we choose, it really creates opportunities for many students to be able to gain that distinction and write that on transcripts submitted to college!  :)

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  Since we as home schoolers have the luxury of taking APs as we choose, it really creates opportunities for many students to be able to gain that distinction and write that on transcripts submitted to college!  :)

 

Two notes.  DD may head back to ps; we are taking it year by year.  One thing we are doing is taking advantage of what the school does NOT offer in ninth grade, such as AP Human Geo (they don't offer this in any grade) or Latin or Bio.  Of course she wants to do these things, but...

 

Another note:  DS17 started off taking a lot of APs in 8th and 9th and then decided he didn't want to play that game.  Interestingly enough, after not getting into his dream school, he wished he had!  I'll ask him again after freshman year!

Edited by lisabees
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Two notes.  DD may head back to ps; we are taking it year by year.  One thing we are doing is taking advantage of what the school does NOT offer in ninth grade, such as AP Human Geo (they don't offer this in any grade) or Latin or Bio.  Of course she wants to do these things, but...

 

Another note:  DS17 started off taking a lot of APs in 8th and 9th and then decided he didn't want to play that game.  Interestingly enough, after not getting into his dream school, he wished he had!  I'll ask him again after freshman year!

 

I understand your sentiment about DS.  Against my better judgment, I let a school convince me oldest DS should take AP Calc in 8th grade.  He hated the course, loathed the teacher who made it all about proofs (25 minutes on each "elegant" solution).  He had the capability but had zero interest.  Well intentioned people, teachers, administrators, etc... fail to recognize high aptitude does not mean high interest.  It really soured DS on the whole experience, and a "regular" AP Calc course would probably have been fine.

 

 

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At the public schools in out area the most advanced kids take AP Gov in 9th, and then APUSH in 10th. The next tier of kids take Honors US History in 9th and AP Gov in 10th.

 

The feeling is that Gov is the easiest AP that aligns with the required curriculum.

 

The only other APs a ninth grader would be allowed to take would be Comp Sci, and a language or math if a kid had taken the prereqs.

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At the public schools in out area the most advanced kids take AP Gov in 9th, and then APUSH in 10th. The next tier of kids take Honors US History in 9th and AP Gov in 10th.

 

The feeling is that Gov is the easiest AP that aligns with the required curriculum.

 

The only other APs a ninth grader would be allowed to take would be Comp Sci, and a language or math if a kid had taken the prereqs.

 

we just did AP Gov in 9th, as I had heard it was one of the easier AP exams. And APUSH is planned for 10th as I've read it's good to have US History under your belt ahead of SATs as many of the readings address US History and a familiarity will help. As to AP Govt exam, time will tell how my ds fared when scores come back in July.

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As others have said, it's not common for 9th graders to take any APs. However, it's relatively common for high achieving public/private school juniors and seniors to take 4 or more APs a year, which is a lot of pressure, especially around exam time. We tried to spread things out a bit here, and were fairly selective in the APs chosen. One daughter did no APs, and the other did ones where we thought the exams would be helpful in validating her strengths.

 

My daughter's schedule of AP classes (she did have other non-AP coursework):

9th: US Govt and Politics (chosen because it was an election year, and she was doing CloseUp in DC)

10th: English Lit, Calc AB, World History (ultimately she did not take the WH exam because we couldn't find a location, and did the SAT subject test instead.)

11th: Biology (she had not done "regular" biology previously, or any other AP sciences, but it was fine), English Lang, Music Theory

 

So she had 6 APs going into college app season, which gave her one of the awards, maybe AP Scholar?

 

Then 12th was Comp Sci, Statistics, and Chinese Lang (that was a last minute add when the spring dual enrollment class was cancelled.)

 

This was not an overwhelming amount of work, and other courses were chosen carefully so that it was all manageable. Her US History during junior year, for example, was pretty light, focusing on reading only.

 

 

Edited by Gr8lander
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we just did AP Gov in 9th, as I had heard it was one of the easier AP exams. And APUSH is planned for 10th as I've read it's good to have US History under your belt ahead of SATs as many of the readings address US History and a familiarity will help. As to AP Govt exam, time will tell how my ds fared when scores come back in July.

 

I've never heard that as one of the benefits of APUSH.  Interesting!  

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My ds didn't take any AP classes at all.  He is going to start DE next year in his senior year.

 

My dd took AP Psychology and AP English Lang this year as a 9th grader.  Honestly, we had just planned on the AP Psych, but when I was looking for an English class for her, I was having trouble finding a class that I felt she would really get something out of.  It started to dawn on me that maybe she was ready for AP English, so I had her fill out the application at PAHS.  Well, she got in and she absolutely loved it, but it was a ton of work for her.  I think she really should have had another class first, but she did get so much out of this one.  She can now breeze through the papers for all her other classes, which is a nice skill to have this early on.  And, if I had put her in another class, who knows if she would have gotten what she needed there.  The quality of a writing class is so hard to get a feel for until you are well into it.

 

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At the public schools in out area the most advanced kids take AP Gov in 9th, and then APUSH in 10th. The next tier of kids take Honors US History in 9th and AP Gov in 10th.

 

The feeling is that Gov is the easiest AP that aligns with the required curriculum.

 

The only other APs a ninth grader would be allowed to take would be Comp Sci, and a language or math if a kid had taken the prereqs.

 

Having gone through numerous AP classes with kids, AP Gov is a great go-to for first time AP test takers.  Relative to other AP tests, it is very straightforward, the questions are short, and the analysis required is not demanding. 

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Having gone through numerous AP classes with kids, AP Gov is a great go-to for first time AP test takers. Relative to other AP tests, it is very straightforward, the questions are short, and the analysis required is not demanding.

This is great to know. We may try to tackle this one at home, then. I am a little surprised because everyone in my area seems to do Government (even if it is not AP) in 12th grade.

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My ds didn't take any AP classes at all. He is going to start DE next year in his senior year.

 

My dd took AP Psychology and AP English Lang this year as a 9th grader. Honestly, we had just planned on the AP Psych, but when I was looking for an English class for her, I was having trouble finding a class that I felt she would really get something out of. It started to dawn on me that maybe she was ready for AP English, so I had her fill out the application at PAHS. Well, she got in and she absolutely loved it, but it was a ton of work for her. I think she really should have had another class first, but she did get so much out of this one. She can now breeze through the papers for all her other classes, which is a nice skill to have this early on. And, if I had put her in another class, who knows if she would have gotten what she needed there. The quality of a writing class is so hard to get a feel for until you are well into it.

May I ask, what did your DD think of the AP psych test?

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I've never heard that as one of the benefits of APUSH.  Interesting!  

 

 

I found it on a college-advising to-do list available on WHA. So we're going with that. ;-)

 

"Try to take US History by the 10th grade year. The new redesigned SAT has a ‘Great Global Conversation’ on the Reading portion which includes various United States Founding Documents, Civil Rights Speeches and other texts on freedom or justice. 

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May I ask, what did your DD think of the AP psych test?

 

I'm not the original poster on AP Psych, but DD took the test last year and found it straightforward.  It's another good test for earlier high school years in terms of time commitment and the types of questions. 

 

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This is great to know. We may try to tackle this one at home, then. I am a little surprised because everyone in my area seems to do Government (even if it is not AP) in 12th grade.

 

I think it is usually taught senior year as students prepare to join the adult world and gain the legal capacity to vote etc... Some teachers also wait to teach AP Lang and Comp until senior year for similar reasons. 

 

Some students are not particularly interested in Gov and Politics until they are older.  Part of the AP sequence is determining if your student is interested at that point in time. 

 

Strictly in terms of AP course work and tests, this is one that is less time-intensive and "easier" in terms of response writing.  By contrast, AP Lang, AP Lit, APUSH, AP Euro, AP World History etc... have long essay writing expectations, and some early high school students are not prepared for the type of writing and/or analysis required.

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I'm not the original poster on AP Psych, but DD took the test last year and found it straightforward. It's another good test for earlier high school years in terms of time commitment and the types of questions.

 

Thank you Gratia.
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May I ask, what did your DD think of the AP psych test?

 

She felt really good about it when she came out.  She said she had more time than she realized to do the multiple choice, so she was able to go back to the questions that she had circled that she was unsure of and spend more time on those.  One of the essays she was able to do without a problem.  The other had 9 parts to it and she was not able to answer every single part, but still felt pretty good about it.  But, we will see what her score is.  All of her practice tests had her earning a 5, so we are hoping that will be the case.

 

She had audited the PAHS class because the AP Lang class was so time consuming.  We were happy with that decision.  She did all the readings and exams.  The teacher graded her essays.  This only took a few hours a week and probably could have been done at home.  The one thing I would have missed if we had done it at home was having the teacher grade the essays.  Mrs. Gonzales gave very specific, excellent feedback on the essays so that my dd knew exactly what she needed to do.

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She felt really good about it when she came out. She said she had more time than she realized to do the multiple choice, so she was able to go back to the questions that she had circled that she was unsure of and spend more time on those. One of the essays she was able to do without a problem. The other had 9 parts to it and she was not able to answer every single part, but still felt pretty good about it. But, we will see what her score is. All of her practice tests had her earning a 5, so we are hoping that will be the case.

 

She had audited the PAHS class because the AP Lang class was so time consuming. We were happy with that decision. She did all the readings and exams. The teacher graded her essays. This only took a few hours a week and probably could have been done at home. The one thing I would have missed if we had done it at home was having the teacher grade the essays. Mrs. Gonzales gave very specific, excellent feedback on the essays so that my dd knew exactly what she needed to do.

Thanks for this detailed post. Fingers crossed for your DD.

ETA that we also considered AP Lang for 9th grade but DS really needs a 5 in that one otherwise it's not worth taking (European schools require APs in area of interest). Based on that alone we are pushing this one down the sequence a bit. I will be interested to compare the reading/writing requirement of his university class which he is taking instead with the AP classes down the line.

Edited by madteaparty
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Thanks for this detailed post. Fingers crossed for your DD.

ETA that we also considered AP Lang for 9th grade but DS really needs a 5 in that one otherwise it's not worth taking (European schools require APs in area of interest). Based on that alone we are pushing this one down the sequence a bit. I will be interested to compare the reading/writing requirement of his university class which he is taking instead with the AP classes down the line.

 

Yes, I guess it is a bit of a risk to take it earlier.  My dd is going to pretty darn disappointed if she doesn't get a 5 on that exam, but I *think* she can retake it if she wants to.  For her, it will all come down to whether she can keep from freezing up on the essay portion of the exam since the time constraint for that stresses her out a bit.  90% of the students in Maya's past classes have gotten a 4 or a 5 on the exam, but I don't know how that breaks down between 4s and 5s.

 

It would be interesting to see the difference between the university class and the AP class for your son.  I would think that if the university class winds up being a good one, then maybe he could even just take the AP exam without a specific class.  If you can retake AP exams without penalty (which is what I think I read on these boards before), it might be worth giving it a try.  Or, if he takes the AP class, it would hopefully be a lot easier.  So much depends on the teacher and their expectations.  One thing that really surprised me about the AP English exam is that if you did really strongly on the multiple choice, which is just reading comprehension, you don't even need to score that high on the essays.

Edited by OnMyOwn
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