The Apache Pow Wow

Biology Honors: Is It Right For You?

Back to Article
Back to Article

Biology Honors: Is It Right For You?

Rebecca Tao, Staff Writer

Biology Honors is one of the newest additions to the roster of classes at AHS,  and its curriculum is described as being a more challenging upgrade compared to regular Biology. The Biology Honors teachers this year are Mr. Chris Saucedo, Mr. Sam Williams, and Mrs. Nicole Soliven. While Biology Honors is currently not recognized as a UC-approved honors class, many students chose to take the class and tackle the heightened expectations.

In what ways is Biology Honors different from regular Biology, you may ask? Well, Biology Honors students generally receive more work and are expected to produce higher level work than regular Biology students. Mrs. Soliven described that Honors Biology is comparable with the previous years’ regular Biology, but after the change in standards last year, the level of work given to the current Honors Biology students and regular Biology students is vastly different. The addition of Biology Honors hasn’t changed the prerequisites for AP Biology, meaning that both Biology Honors and regular Biology lead to AP Bio. However, Mrs. Soliven explained that there is more self-study required in Biology Honors, which can better prepare students for AP Biology. Mr. Saucedo agrees with this statement as he adds that “assessments are more difficult and use more application instead of multiple choice.” Mr. Saucedo also noted that the course is “faster-paced and is a learning process,” and he contributed that “some students seek this type of challenge and are excited by it.”

Mr. Williams agrees that Honors Biology may prepare students better for AP Biology as it is designed to be more rigorous with in-depth analysis of biological concepts. Additionally, more specific details of molecular biology are included. Students are expected to be independent learners and to devote extra time studying beyond the basic concepts.

In Honors Biology, students have to complete labs and mini-projects in a shorter time span as compared to regular Biology students. Furthermore, while most tests and major unit projects are assigned to both classes, there may be additional assignments Biology Honors students need to complete. To aid student performance, in Mrs. Soliven’s Biology Honors class, Fridays are reserved for community building and catch-up time. Here, students are given time that they can use to collaborate with their group on projects and labs or as some time to study. This helps students better adjust to the more rigorous and faster-paced nature of the Biology Honors classes. In addition, Biology Honors students are held to a stricter level of precision when following guidelines and meeting certain rubrics. For example, these students are required to use the model of “Claim, Evidence, Reasoning” (CER) in their labs and projects.

The overall consensus I received from Biology Honors students is that they found it challenging trying to balance their academic and social life as they are mainly directing their attention and time to Biology Honors. Freshman Ava Woo, who is taking Biology Honors said, “I notice as time goes on, I’m getting more used to it, so by the end of the year I’ll be thankful.” Freshman Elva Kith, who is also taking Biology Honors, said that she enjoys the class because through it, she has found a group of friends who understand her and share the same interests. It should be noted that freshmen make up the majority of Biology Honors classes. Therefore, they may not be used to the heightened expectations of an honors-level class. On the other hand, freshman Joy Huang, who is taking regular Biology, said, “I am content with my decision as it allows me to focus more on my other classes, like French.”

In addition to contacting students, I asked one of our school counselors, Ms. Phuong An for her input about handling Biology Honors. She responded that students should be able to direct their focus to all of their subjects while balancing their outside school life.

Overall, Biology Honors is still a developing course. For students whose strengths center around the sciences and biology or anyone who is looking for a challenge, Biology Honors can be a great way to strengthen your critical thinking and prepare you for higher level work!

Graphic courtesy of VECTORSTOCK.COM

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

The World Is Our Campus
Biology Honors: Is It Right For You?