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AP English is one of the family of Advanced Placement courses offered by many high schools. At the end of a full year of English (it's really called AP English Literature and Composition), the student takes the AP test. There they can receive a score of 1-5 (1 being the worst, 5 the best), and then college credit, depending on the score and the college.

Yet another of the lovely AP classes that are offered at my school, this one has perhaps the most... ominous reputation. It is taught by Mr. Hilbert, who has perhaps the most... ominous reputation in our high school. He looks like a walrus, not because he's fat, but because he has a white mustache that quivers when he's mad. The wrath of Hilbert is terrible and often without reason, as is the workload. I had a class with him in sophomore year and totalled my parents' car the weekend before finals because I had gotten so little sleep due to the sheer volume of homework in his class. The next year, I had my locker in the hall right next door to his classroom. He came out nearly every day five minutes after the final bell rang to yell at my friends and me to shut up. This year, I chose to take AP English, along with AP Calculus BC, Honors Physics, and AP Spanish IV mainly because I'm some sort of masochist.

The week before school got out last year, all students entering the AP English class the next year had to attend a meeting to be assigned summer homework. The results were four books to read and a file folder for each of the books we had read during our first three years of high school. This totalled slightly more than 25. A file folder consists of about six parts, including a characters list, a plot summary, and an essay. This summer homework-- resulting in a lot of whining by everyone I knew-- would hang over my head for most of the summer. I never did finish one of the books (Hamlet). The culmination of all this homework was one killer all-nighter the day before school started. As a result, I don't remember the first day of school very well. The upside is that I have a really cool file folder box that weighs about ten pounds and contains more writing already than I care to think about (and the year's only 1/3 done!).

The excitement of AP English continues to grow. Quizzes nearly every day, 6-8 books read every 12 weeks, not to mention lots of other little reading assignments, and copious amounts of homework combine to make this one of the most work intensive courses I have ever taken. Our first final (our school year has trimesters, so this was about two weeks ago) consisted of four essays to be written in 60 minutes. Each essay had to include definitions of terms, at least two literary periods, and at least four books for evidence. I carried a bag with over twenty books in it to my final.

Although all this stress might incur a lot of sleepless nights (by Friday I typically look like I've been run over by a truck and don't even have the strength to do my hair), AP English is one of my favorite classes. In addition to being able to finally really, truly discuss literature, we learn about philosophy and history as it relates to the literature we read. It provides a great excuse to talk to my friends on the phone ("But we're doing AP English, mom!"), hang out online ("But I'm doing research for AP English!"), discuss the Black Death with even more people whether they want to hear it or not ("The Black Death led to the classicists, neoclassicists, Renaissance, Reformation, Internet, etc...")and I've gotten to know Sparknotes better than ever. So take AP English today! Bond with your friends and classmates over literature and suffering!

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