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FAQ about Advancement of Science 2014-15
Advancement in Science

  •  What does advancement mean in the science program?
Advancement of a course allows a student who has completed a year of high school science to bypass a prerequisite course by pursuing a pre-approved, organized course of study at a recognized institution outside of the school day or school year. Students must meet other requirements of AP science courses to bypass first-year accelerated science courses of chemistry 1 and physics 1 to take AP Chemistry or AP Physics C.

  • Why do students advance?
This is a challenging question.  Students who take the three accelerated sciences of biology, chemistry, and physics position themselves to take any AP course when they are seniors.  A student who presents such an academic record to colleges has demonstrated she/he has taken challenging courses in high school. Part of the answer lies how advancement in science developed at PHS.
There are several reasons.  Some students began to advance to AP Physics C when they had completed AP BC Calculus as 11th graders.  The AP Physics C course uses the tools of calculus and this appeals to students.  Secondly, in their study of AP BC Calculus, students are exposed to physics-based problems. Another reason is that if students want to take a physics course at Princeton University and they must complete AP Physics C by the end of their junior year.  

       3.  Is there a downside to advancement?
Students should be aware that there could be a downside.  In order to take a Princeton University class, students must an overall minimum 3.5 GPA, an A- average of all science courses, and a 5 on the AP exam(s).  The University expects students to complete a sequence of courses at PHS enroll- meaning that a student takes a first-year course at PHS and the subsequent AP course at PHS.  University science courses could be denied because a student has not taken a sequence of courses for credit at PHS.
A student who advances in physics may find her/himself in their senior year of high school without a chemistry class on record.  Chemistry is the gatekeeper to other science courses.  Additionally, first-year chemistry is a sophomore course.  
  • How does a student start the advancement process?
Download a form that is available at this website or in a folder from the office door of the Supervisor of Science K-12 in room 188.2 of PHS.
A student submits that Advancement form and evidence of enrollment of a pre-approved institution to the Supervisor of Science by May 1, 2014. The timing provides input of critical information to contribute to the master schedule of science sections, science rooms, and science teachers.

  • What qualifies to be considered as a pre-approved program?
The summer program should be at the honors or accelerated level of study of the first year of chemistry or the first year of physics.  The pre-approved course must have at least 120 hours.  The first-year chemistry course must include a significant laboratory component.
A cautionary note is that the student should check the syllabus of the summer program against the syllabus of the first-year accelerated science courses of PHS to align the summer course syllabus with PHS syllabus and the topics that will be part of the PHS final exam.

  • When will the advancement test be given?
The first and second Wednesday of August at 9:00-11:00 at PHS in the science wing. The main office will know the room number.  Students should call ahead to confirm which date with the Supervisor of Science and to have a test available.

  • What should the student bring or submit to take the Advancement Test?  
Students should bring or submit a final copy of the grade or evaluation of the course taken. This must be an official record.  In addition, all students should bring a #2 pencil, an erasure, and a calculator.

  • Can a student complete the coursework, “pass” the test to advance and put off taking the AP?
Yes.  Each year several students do put the “advancement option” in the bank.  The following school year, she/he enrolls during the scheduled meeting times with guidance counselors.  The advantage of this option is that students can build a better schedule that will remain intact.  In addition, some students are selecting which summer works better in their life.

Also, it is possible that once a student qualifies to advance, he/she may not be able to take the class because of conflicts with other scheduled classes or because the AP sections are full and closed to further enrollment.  A student may be placed on a wait list until the first week of school to see if a seat opens up in a section that will work in his/her scheduled program of study.

  • What does a second path to Advancement in AP Physics C mean?
Students who have completed an AP Science with an A and who received a 5 on its AP Exam and who have completed AP BC Calculus with an A and who received a 5 on the AP BC Calculus exam may enroll for AP Physics C provided they complete some problem sets from the Gianacoli text. The book may be rented from PHS for $160 check payable to PHS in the last days of the school year. The check will be returned when the book is returned to the Supervisor of Science by September 2, 2014.

  • Is there a second path to other the other AP science courses?
No.  Students must take the PHS prerequisite course or a pre-approved course with it laboratory work and experience to advance to AP Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, and Organic Chemistry.  

  • Can rising 9th grade students advance in science?
No.  A student must be have completed one-year of accelerated biology to advance and meet other pre-requisite requirements to advance.

  • In addition to a pre-approved summer course, what else is required to advance?
  • A student needs to have at least a B+ in their current accelerated science class.
  • A student needs a recommendation from their current accelerated science teacher.  
  • A student needs to receive an A in the summer course and come prepared to take the final exam of the first-year accelerated course in the August dates listed in the Program of Study (on HS Guidance website) for the beginning school year and receive a score of a B+(87%) or better to advance.
  • What happens when a student does not qualify to advance after taking a summer course and the test?
Each student selected a science course when they met with their counselor in February/March.  This is the default course that was sent to them when the school verified their selections in June.