Sophomores, Meet the College Board

Class of 2020 first to take AP US History as tenth graders

Until this year, if a freshman or sophomore was asked what they knew about AP classes, the typical response would either be: they are difficult courses to take in the future, or it is a confusing time because the bells are not ringing. However, this school year is the first in which an AP class was offered to sophomores, instead of an honors level course.

While AP US History (also known as APUSH) used to be a junior-level class, a change in the Social Studies department’s curriculum has resulted in both juniors and sophomores taking it this year, while next year it will only be a sophomore class. This change moves each US history course down a grade level, and the class of 2020 will be the first to take World History as juniors, where it was a freshman course before.

The content of the courses helped to spur the change. Social Studies Department Supervisor Ronald Romano said this shift was due to the fact that “students in 11th grade will be better prepared to learn” about areas of history that will be much more heavily stressed in the upcoming curriculum such as Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Although the effects of this part of the curriculum change will not be felt until next year, the change has seriously impacted the class of 2020 this year, as they are taking an AP course instead of a normal honors one.

According to APUSH teacher Dr. Nicholas Pellegrino, juniors are “typically more academically mature,” meaning they better understand how to “navigate their way through the demands of high school”.  He had to adjust some of his lessons and how he teaches them for his two sophomore classes, in comparison to his three junior ones.

These were minor obstacles, however, as Pellegrino emphasized that his 10th-grade students have completely “exceeded [his] expectations” in so many ways. His overall assessment that they succeeded in the class matches well with the sophomores’ own evaluations of APUSH.

“It was easier than expected,” said sophomore Sunny Yeo, “but it still wasn’t easy. Dr. P helped a lot, which is why I didn’t find it too too difficult.”

Because of the academically competitive culture at NVOT, most underclassmen expect to take at least one or two AP classes as juniors or seniors. By taking an AP in the tenth grade, Yeo said, “the course prepared me for next year’s AP classes.”

However, besides the preparation necessary for the May 11th nationwide AP exam, Yeo conceded the class was not “any different than taking an honors class.” As for the exam, she felt “well-prepared” for this test, which is meant to be difficult, no matter the grade level.