AP Bio and AP Chem

My daughter is taking AP Bio and AP Chem in sophomore year. I heard that it will be hectic. Please provide suggestions, so that she does well. Thanks.

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Without knowing the rest of her schedule, her ECs, and what post AP sciences are available, I’d push one to a later year. Each course is time consuming on its own before factoring in that each has numerous labs requiring additional time


I wouldn’t recommend taking those together. Why two sciences in one year?

What did she take freshman year? AP Bio includes a decent amount of chemistry.

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Two sciences in one year depends on the student and the school. It certainly has been done by many students, just not typically two APs sophomore year. For this year, I’d choose one as @skieurope recommended. The one I’d push would be based on her interests and what’s offered beyond at the school. My son for example took Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry in high school. His school also offers Anatomy and Virology. If advanced courses are offered on a path that interests her, I’d take that one first.

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What does the rest of her schedule look like? Are these her first HS biology and chemistry courses?


Those courses seem VERY tough for a sophomore. No way would I recommend taking both at the same time. Even taking just one of them sophomore year will be a lot.


I see no reason to cram in two AP sciences during sophomore year.


Talk to the school and see if that is typical. 2 sciences in a year, even 2 APs , can be done (our school has many who do APphys1& APBio—or APhys1 and APChem, in 10th or 11th, but that physics is really just a fast paced version of HS physics. Some do AP PhysC and APBio, but as seniors). AP Bio and AP Chem are usually second year courses that follow the first year of Honors Chem or Honors Bio, so that specific combo is not one I have seen In 10th grade. However, if it is done somewhat commonly and successfully by kids at your HS then it may not be a problem. The head of the science department might be a good resource.

I generally agree with other answers that this is a lot.

There is one issue that I am wondering about: What comes next? What will she take for the last two years of high school?

One reason that I ask is that some students who are interested in both biology and chemistry might be interested somewhere down the road in premed classes and maybe medical school. My understanding is that for students who take DE classes (community college classes) while they are still in high school, those classes may count for medical school admissions. However, students are usually stronger students when they are part way through university compared to when they are still in high school.

To take this just a little bit further and give one example, we occasionally see posts here on CC from freshman students in university who are already taking organic chemistry and who are suffering. In contrast, students who wait and take it a bit later will sometimes do better. Both daughters waited and did fine in the class.

All of which is a bit of a worry that something has to come next, and whatever comes next might be even more demanding. We each have a limit. It can be a bit tough when any of us find out what that limit is.

Whether any of this applies to your daughter I of course cannot know.

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That is a lot of content to cover. I assume there is an advanced math class and a year 3 or 4 world language course in the mix along with English and Social Studies.

She is better off shifting one to another year and picking up another AP in a different content area of a required class.

One page I look at is the test dates - while they are on separate weeks, Chem comes up early and will need to be the focus while her bio class is focused on prepping those final weeks. Pick one or the other, not both in 10th grade. 2024 AP Exam Dates – AP Central | College Board

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Contrary to what others are saying, I think this is mostly doable especially if those are the only AP she is doing. There is a good point, that I’m not sure why you’d do this in the first place (what happens in junior/senior year?) but in terms of workload I don’t think its that bad.

For AP Chem I would highly recommend studying the polyatomic ions and stoichiometry this summer; that would be a huge head-start that will give a strong foundation for the rest of the units (many of which rely on these). I didn’t find AP Chem to be as memorization heavy as AP Bio, so in terms of workload it just depends on how quickly you “get” the concepts, though there were definitely challenging topics like Titrations. Thankfully though, there’s ton of resources online to help out, more than you could ask for.

For AP Bio, it’s just going to be a time sink since there’s a lot of material to cover. I don’t think there’s anything significant to study in the summer before since units aren’t as inter-connected as with AP Chem but just don’t fall behind especially in topics like cell cycle.

If you balance your time I don’t think doing these together is that bad, but again your specific classes may be more difficult than usual and difficulty perception ultimately depends on your specific skillsets and experiences.

Thanks every one for the info. My daughter completed Honors Bio in 9th grade and in summer she is going to do Honors Chem. She is planning on taking DNA 1/2 and Neuro and Physics in 11th grade. She is planning on taking Bioinformatics and Organic Chem in 12th grade. But not completely sure about 11th and 12th grade courses. Reason she said why she wants to do AP Bio and AP Chem in 10th grade is b’cos she can do some good research and to use the Bio/DNA lab at school she needs to have completed some prerequisites. She is planning on becoming medical doctor.

That’s an interesting list of classes! Please talk to the school to make sure most of those are considered the rigorous classes meant for advanced students, and make sure AP Bio and Chem are recommended by the school to do together. In High school, the best prep for premed includes AP Chem and/or APBio, but more specialized sciences aren’t helpful at the HS level. Sometimes, they hurt the gpa/rigor: for example Anatomy and Genetics at HSs around here are regular classes and premeds are discouraged from them: they are meant for pre-nursing program students and/or students who aren’t on the AP/IB track.

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It’s so interesting. My daughter’s super competitive high school doesn’t even allow AP classes until Junior year, with the exception of APUSH. I guess they are in the minority.




Thanks for the info. I have replied to the thread and added more details on courses she is planning to take in 11th and 12th grade. Appreciate your feedback. Thanks.

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Thanks for the info.

This looks scary to me. Are these community college courses?

I do not think that a student should be this many years ahead of a “normal course progression for strong students” unless the student and their teachers are all very confident that the student is ready and will get A’s in the classes. You do not want to take something too early and end up with a C or worse in organic chemistry as a high school student. Students very often do get stronger as they get into their 20’s.

To elaborate a bit on my previous post, one daughter described Organic Chemistry as “the most difficult B- that I ever had in my life”. This is a tough class. This daughter has always been a strong student and was well prepared to take organic chemistry. I do not recall whether she took it as a sophomore or a junior in university. This particular daughter is currently studying for a DVM at a very good and highly ranked program (and is doing well).

Our other daughter waited until her junior year of university, by which point she had already done very well (mostly A+'s) on the prerequisites. She breezed through organic chemistry with no problem at all, but a lot of this was because she was so well prepared. This daughter tends to breeze through nearly all classes, but does have a limit in terms of how much stress she can handle at any one time.

I watched a few students “hit the wall” as an undergraduate student at MIT. Most of them struggled through it. A few dropped out. However, these were all students who had gotten accepted to MIT. Even they (or we) had some limit.

And I breezed through some tough classes when I was a graduate student that would have been way too tough when I was an undergraduate student (but then high school was boring and I could have handled more particularly in math, which was my eventual major).

It can be hard to judge what the limit is when we are talking about very, very strong students.

My son took Organic in HS and did fine. Biochemistry too. His AP Cham was a DE, so he never took chemistry again, even though it was a prerequisite for materials.

As for classes being hard, and you know this well, some people are just more wired for certain things. For him, science and math in particular were never hard, even through tensor calculus used in continuum mechanics. He breezed through things that tripped up most of the rest of his class.

It was english, a supposed easy class, that taxed him. He didn’t like the subjective nature of literary analysis.

Back to the OP, is that Physics class in 11th regular physics or AP Physics C? If regular Physics, I’d be inclined to do that in 10th with AP Chem.

Every student is unique. I doubt she’d be considering this if there wasn’t precedent in her institution. As my son’s head of schools was fond of saying though, “Remember, you get to go to college. There’s no need to cram everything in now.”

Best of luck to her.

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