Is AP Physics the Hardest Class?


Norrie Boyd

A quote from the wall of a physics classroom speaks for itself.

I’ve recently been wondering what is the hardest class you can take at Boulder High. Is Mr. Trinkner’s AP Macroeconomics class the most challenging? What about Calc BC with its ability to bring even the most astute students to their breaking point? Does AP World History crush students like the Romans crushed the Greeks? I have since narrowed my conclusion down to a single type of class.

No calculus, language or social studies class will ever match the difficulty of the Boulder High science department. Although students’ capabilities in these classes have a large range, it is fair to say that the academic rigor required for general success is difficult in science classes. Especially in physics and chemistry.

Now before all the Calculous teachers come at me for insulting the classes they have built to the perfect level of impossibility, know that calc students, who have taken either AP Chem or Physics, also agree that these classes, in general, are more difficult.

Caitlin Rogers is one of Boulder High’s seniors and is currently burdening herself by taking both AP Physics and Calculus BC. Calc BC is one of the most advanced math classes at Boulder High and Caitlin did not hesitate to say that her physics class was much harder.

The sentiments of AP Physics students are shared by the AP Chemists at Boulder high as well. Luke Zana, another brainy senior, took AP Chemistry his Junior year. When asked about this chemistry class and his current Calculus 3 class says that chemistry was “probably the hardest class I’ve taken,” and was “by far” more difficult than his current calc class. Calculus 3 is another of the most advanced math classes offered at Boulder High, and yet it’s not surprising that Luke would prefer this over his AP Chemistry class.

Granted, the opinions of many AP students regarding the difficulty of these types of classes are largely synonymous; it was necessary to gather opinions from the Science administrators to prove my hypothesis.

One of Boulder High’s most beloved science teachers, Mr. O’Block justified a lot of my claims about AP Physics and Chemistry. O’Block mentioned how the “immense volume of material” covered in AP Physics and Chemistry classes can cause big challenges for students.

The AP Physics class, for example, covers “two college semesters of content in two high school semesters,” according to Mr. O’block. Typically a full high school year is needed to cover one college semester so it’s not surprising that students have particular difficulty with the pace of AP Physics and Chemistry.

In addition to the pace of the content, Mr. O’Block mentioned that “there is no constant approach to physics,” which requires an unconventional way of thinking.

STEM classes in general pose a unique challenge for students. But some students and teachers alike agree that AP Chem and AP Physics are some of the hardest classes you can take at Boulder high. How do you feel in your science classes? Would you consider AP Physics or AP Chem an alternative challenging course for your high school career?