AP Chemistry Class Perception and Reality
Students need to be realistic about the expectations for this course. Many students THINK they are ready for college level work, but really don’t know what that means. In order to get a more realistic view of this course, I have included some perceptions entering students have, and the reality of the situation.
1. PRECEPTION: I have always been a “straight A” student and always will be.
REALITY: AP Chemistry can mean death to a 4.0 grade average. Although there are many “A’s (often as many as 1/3 to ? the class) there are also “B’s “ C’s “D’s and “F’s If your main purpose in taking this class is to collect one more “A” you are taking the class for the wrong reason, and may be disappointed. There are easier classes in which to get an “A”.
2. PRECEPTION: I can miss class (sports, activities, family vacations, jobs, field trips, etc.) and catch up on my own. I always have before.
REALITY: You can’t!!! In AP Chemistry, you have to give up a lot to get a lot.
Missing class is the number one reason why students fall behind, get lost, give up, and either drop the class or get a low grade. You cannot be gone for three days, and expect to get caught up with a 10 minute session after school. I cannot teach in 10 minutes what it took 3 hours to teach earlier. (Amazingly some students expect that!)
3. PRECEPTION: Like all teachers, Mr. Thayer is exaggeration about how much work there is, and how tough it really is.
REALITY: I’m not exaggerating. Probably the best way to check this is to talk
with students who have taken the class before.
4. PRECEPTION: Mr. Thayer is making this class a lot tougher than it really needs to be.
REALITY: Never forget-this is a college level course. NOT an advanced high school course. If I am doing my job, students in this course should learn as much as they would if they were taking Freshman Chemistry at any college or university in the United States. A second goal is to properly prepare students for the AP Exam in May. I cannot make the course easier and still accomplish the above goals. Every former student who has taken Freshman College Chemistry has found he or she had a tremendous advantage over other students. I have NEVER had former students come back and say they wish I hadn’t made it so tough.
5. PRECEPTION: If the majority of the class falls behind. Mr. Thayer will just have to slow down so that we can catch up.
REALITY: I can’t!!! You will find that time is of the essence in this course. As much as I may like to and as much as the students may need it, our schedule cannot
be adjusted to accommodate those who cannot keep up. Students will be expected
to study the text on their own, and class time will be use more for clearing up
questions than for introducing new material. There is really no other way to cover
the vast amount of material required by the AP exam. If we slow down to make the
course easier, or allow students to catch up, we will not cover the required subject
matter, and students will have to face exam questions on material not covered in
class. As a result I will make a schedule that will allow us to complete all required
material prior to the exam, and students MUST keep to this schedule. Chemistry
topics build on each other, and students who get behind have a (nearly) impossible
task in catching up. Students can expect to spend about one hour outside of class
time just in the study of chemistry each night Certainly any students who have
after-school jobs, or who are heavily involved in after-school activities will have to
budget their time very carefully.
6. PRECEPTION: All this work Mr. Thayer is talking about must be just for the
“dummies”. I’m smarter than that!
REALITY: All students who are successful in this course will have to spend time
after school—either by getting help on an assignment, completing lab work, or
reviewing for tests. If you are never available immediately after school to do
chemistry work, you should not take this course! I will not normally be available
before school or during lunch, but WILL be available almost every day after school.
Students will be encouraged to form study groups to get many of their questions
PRECEPTION: Mr. Thayer doesn’t really expect us to do a summer assignment, and he
isn’t really going to give us a test the first day of class in September.
REALITY: I am serious about this—the summer assignment is mainly a review of first
year chemistry. The test will encourage you to do most of the memorization for the course before the school year begins. This early work will allow us to spend additional time later on more difficult topics. You will find the summer assignment and information regarding the “first day test” at the end of this sheet.