Peer Reviews of CCHS Classes


The Centaurian Team

As the time to schedule classes for the next school year approaches, it may be difficult to tell what a class will actually be like from the course description. In an effort to assist students, the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 Centaurian team have assembled class reviews for select courses written by students who have taken the class they are reviewing. Good luck Centaurs!


AP Language and Composition, written by Kai Spitz

AP Language and Composition is the highest level English class offered to 11th grade students at CCHS. This class is rigorous, like most other AP classes, but is manageable if you put in the effort. AP Language focuses on building students’ skills in rhetorical analysis through reading nonfiction texts including speeches, articles, and short stories, as well as writing three different types of essays. The three essay types that you will be introduced to are the Argument, Rhetorical Analysis, and Synthesis essays. These timed essays are each assigned multiple times throughout the year to gradually prepare you for the AP Exam in May, which will contain one of each essay (each of which is given 40 minutes to complete, except the Synthesis essay, which takes 55 minutes), along with a multiple choice portion. The MCQ portion contains five passages, with 45 questions in total, and 60 minutes are given to complete it. While it sounds like a lot, and is definitely challenging at times, the teachers (Dr. Balatayo, Mrs. Barten, and Mrs. Cordell) are all there to ease you into it and help you along the way. Over the course of the school year, the amount of practice you will get from writing timed essays in class and engaging with the classwork will teach you how to become a better and faster writer. This course also doesn’t require much work outside of class time, as most major assignments and assessments are completed in class. However, this may slightly vary depending on which teacher you have, as with every other class. Overall, I would definitely recommend this class to those eager to learn new skills and are willing to put in the effort, as this is a very rewarding and enriching course.

AP Literature and Composition, written by Caitlin Polesetsky

AP Literature and Composition is the highest level English class offered at the 12th grade level, but its difficulty is comparable to AP Language, the 11th grade advanced English option. AP Literature is a reading based class that primarily focuses on literary analysis. The class is structured around fiction books and plays that the class reads together, though most of the reading is assigned to be done independently. Students looking to take AP Literature should be strong readers and writers. Class participation is highly encouraged and oftentimes mandatory. While AP Lang isn’t a requirement to take AP Literature (and certainly isn’t necessary to be successful in the class), the writing skills learned in AP Lang are very useful in AP Literature. Mrs. Pappert is the only AP Literature teacher, and she takes care to break down difficult topics clearly. That being said, students are expected to pace themselves, whether it be with at-home reading, large projects with generous due dates (but no check-ins), or the university-style research paper due in the second semester. AP Literature is one of the few AP classes at CCHS taught like a college class, and this means that students have a lot of freedom. Students who enjoy more structured classes may consider looking at alternative English courses. The class isn’t overwhelmingly difficult, but definitely requires work. That being said, it’s extremely rewarding, and for students who enjoy reading, very engaging.


AP Calculus AB, written by Julia Leong

AP Calculus is most likely the most challenging math available at CCHS, but it is doable. With that in mind, it is advisable that you take this class only if you like math. The prerequisite math that is most important for the class is Algebra 2, so having a good foundation in it is advised. The Calculus teacher, Mr. Dien, tries to break down each topic individually in order to cement the concepts before you learn about their application. The tests are challenging, but if you study you can get a good grade. The workload isn’t excessive, but it is what you make of it. You are given class time to do the work, but it is free form, so if you don’t use that time wisely you may have to do it at home.

AP Calculus BC, written by Jonathan Kim

AP Calculus BC was newly added in the 2023-2024 school year and is likely the most challenging math course offered at CCHS. It is highly advised that students complete Pre-Calculus before taking this course, although students do not need to take AP Calculus AB as a prerequisite. Compared to the AB course, AP Calculus BC is taught at a much faster pace as the course covers two additional units; thus, the workload is one of the main distinctions between the two courses. In AP Calculus AB, students are often given multiple days each week to complete their homework assignments, which are mandatory for participation points and essential to performing well on tests. However, in AP Calculus BC, nearly every class period is designated toward taking notes. As a result, students planning on taking the BC course should be aware that most of their homework assignments, some of which can take upwards of two hours, will be worked on outside of class. Students can expect to receive around two homework packets per week, as packets are assigned for each sub topic. However, Mr. Dien, the Calculus teacher, provides excellent instruction to break down the topics and makes the tests manageable by focusing more on testing the calculus concepts that are taught, rather than students’ ability to perform difficult algebra on any DOK3 or DOK4 questions. And while most classes might be scheduled for notes, Mr. Dien does make an effort to provide some class time for homework and questions when possible. For students on the fence of which calculus course to take, AP Calculus BC is a doable class for those who are organized and diligent about their work.     

AP Statistics, written by Julia Leong

AP Statistics is one of the two AP math classes at Culver City High School. It has the prerequisite of Algebra II, but really the calculation-based math only gets to about Algebra I level with the exception of some work with square roots. As a result, when it comes to calculations, AP Calculus is the more difficult class. However, that is not to say AP Stats doesn’t have its challenges. The difficulty of the class really comes from the concepts. I personally like to think of this class as English-ified math. It’s all about using the right language, and having all of the components in your answer to get full points. There are some things that might take time to wrap your head around, but the class’ difficulty stays relatively consistent throughout the year. As far as the workload goes, it isn’t much. There are short “Check Your Understanding” benchmarks every lesson counted as homework, but they can be done in class. Overall, I would recommend this class to people who want to take an AP math class, and feel confident in their comprehension skills.


AP European History, written by Bianca Egan

AP European History dropped in popularity after this year, as a result of AP World coming to Culver City. The class itself is a standard AP history class, but also one of the more challenging ones on campus. Ms. Snyder breaks the mass amount of content into around 9 units give or take, with exams for every unit that are typically multiple choice with an SAQ (short answer question). The exams themselves are difficult, but there are test corrections that significantly boost your grade, so it’s not as bad as it seems. Also helping your grade are reading quizzes, which are around twenty questions based solely off of the textbook reading guides. These quizzes are open notes, so they are usually beneficial to students. The bulk of the course load comes from these reading guides, which can range from fifty questions to over a hundred. The questions are not especially difficult to answer, just time consuming. The content itself is expansive, but Ms. Snyder’s lectures take a more in depth look at events, so in tandem with the textbook and outside studying students feel adequately prepared for the Unit tests. To succeed in the class you will need to study independently because not every topic can be covered in class, and you may feel like you need more review in order to do well. There are tons of online resources available on youtube (Tom Richey, Heimler’s History, etc.) as well as Quizlet,, and plenty of other sites Ms. Snyder introduces you to that will be extremely helpful (and almost necessary) in order to do well. Overall the class is hard, but not impossible, as long as you commit to dedicating a good amount of time. That being said, Ms. Snyder is a passionate teacher and students who enjoy history will find the course content interesting.

AP US Government, written by Hana Varsano

In terms of difficulty, AP US Government is one of the more average AP classes I have ever taken. It’s not too hard academically, but not incredibly easy either. Mr. Plotnik is a good teacher and provides you with decent study tools such as slides, study guides, and Khan Academy resources for the tests, which includes MCQs and FRQs. Some questions on the multiple choice exams can be confusing, but overall they’re not too hard. He also gives you feedback on your FRQ’s in class and what you got wrong on the MCQ’s, which can help you learn from your mistakes. Additionally, Mr. Plotnik only assigns two pieces of homework per week outside of studying, which is nice compared to the workload in other AP classes.  However, you may be bored in his class when it comes to watching videos on FRQ’s and taking notes on slides, since there is extensive coverage on the topics. Additionally, students have a couple of discussions both in-person and on Canvas, which can be a bit of work depending on how many topics and questions there are, but nothing too extreme. The discussions can also be boring if you have a hard time focusing in class. Overall, Mr. Plotnik’s AP US Government class is a pretty standard class, but some parts of the class can be boring and hard to focus on if you’re not interested in the content. As long as you do the work and study at a healthy pace, you can earn a solid grade in this course. 

AP World History, written by Kai Spitz

AP World History is one of CCHS’s newest courses, which was definitely a popular choice with the incoming Sophomore class. This class can be difficult, but also very rewarding. As of 2022-2023, the three teachers teaching this course are Ms. Kinsella, Ms. Snyder, and Mr. Mende. Although this class is challenging, these three exceptional teachers are here to give you an in depth look at history, from the 1200s up to present day, and ultimately prepare students for the big AP test in the Spring. This class gradually progresses in difficulty, and will challenge students as the year goes on. The intensity and high expectations will help students be well prepared for the AP exam. The class itself is made up of MCQs (Stimulus Multiple Choice Questions), SAQ’s (Short Answer Questions), LEQ’s (Long Essay Questions) and DBQ (Document Based Questions). Other assignments are reading guide quizzes, projects, and classwork. Test curves and/or test corrections are sometimes offered, which can really help to boost your final scores. Although this class is undoubtedly challenging, it is definitely doable to those who are hard-working and motivated to succeed.

AP US History, written by Hana Varsano

You might be wary of taking another AP history class after having just taken AP World or European History, but AP US History is manageable if you just do the work that is asked. Overall, the teachers, Mr. Owens and Mr. Minguet, give notes from Google Slides to do and as long as you study them enough you can pass the multiple choice quiz and exam. However, only Mr. Owens curves exam grades. They also provide the slides on their Canvas home page so that you see what you missed if you left school or just prefer to study that way. Although it’s hard to pass the LEQ’s (long essay questions) and DBQ’s (document based questions), they give you feedback on your work to help you. You have the option to read textbook chapters over the weekend and during the week for the slides you will review in the following day. Although there aren’t reading guides nor is reading mandatory like in 10th grade AP History classes, it is still strongly recommended that you read the textbook pages to feel adequately prepared for the essays and eventual AP test. They also have recommendations of what videos to watch for the quizzes and exams, providing sources such as Heimler’s History and Crash Course. Personally, I think 2-4 days of studying for quizzes and tests is enough. Although they provide these sources, I recommend that you use multiple choice practice on either their AP classroom page or Khan Academy for upcoming tests and quizzes. So if you think you are able to pass the class by following some of these steps consider enrolling!


AP Chemistry, written by Leo Marcus

AP Chemistry is an amazing class! If you took either Honors Chemistry or Regular Chemistry and did well, or just enjoy learning about science, you should definitely be considering this class. The subject material is very interesting, and it is well taught by Mrs. Fontijn. This class is known to be one of the hardest AP classes, and while it is definitely difficult, it is doable to those who put in the time and effort. While the assigned homework is extremely manageable and can sometimes be finished in class, just doing the required work is often not enough, and you are recommended to study by doing many practice problems on your own to do well on exams. In general, the course moves along at a steady pace, and the labs are a lot of fun as well. If you don’t like math or science, this is probably not the class for you. However, if you’re interested in STEM or want to major in something along those lines, I would definitely recommend this class!

AP Computer Science Principles, written by Jonathan Kim

AP Computer Science Principles (APCSP) is one of two AP computer science courses offered by the College Board. Taught by Mr. Davis, this course is arguably the easiest AP class that you can take at CCHS. APCSP is for students with little-to-no coding or programming knowledge. In the class, students complete the majority of their class assignments using a computer program called Alice, which is a simple drag-and-drop block programming system. In the beginning of second semester, students transition to using Java, but are taught only an easier, introductory version of this programming language. As long as you don’t procrastinate on the work and use class time wisely, these assignments are easy to complete and receive full scores on.  Since many of the assignments can be completed well before their due dates, there is usually no homework and students often use this class as a “free study period” or to catch up on work from other classes. Although the class is viewed as an introductory course to AP Computer Science A (APCSA) where students take a deeper dive into Java programming, all of the programming skills taught in APCSP are relatively basic and reviewed at the beginning of APCSA. Because of the easy and straightforward nature of the course, unless you already have a boatload of AP classes during your junior or senior year and want to ease your schedule, or you want a free period to study for your other classes, you may want to consider taking AP Computer Science A instead.

AP Environmental Science, written by Ariana Khan

AP Environmental Science is one of the most informative and useful classes for understanding the world. Among all of the science APs, it’s the most popular among students who may not pursue science in college, as it includes topics relating to social issues, politics, and culture. Taught by Ms. Grasso and Mr. Lockett, the content is broken down well and those who are passionate about environmental issues will find the class very interesting and engaging. As it’s widely considered one of the easiest AP’s offered at CCHS, the workload is very light. Plenty of time is given to complete assignments such as labs, AP classroom assignments, and discussions. If you’re looking for a lighter AP course, or are passionate about learning about the environment, APES is a great course for you. 

AP Physics C: Mechanics, written by Jonathan Kim

AP Physics C: Mechanics earns its reputation as one of the most rigorous courses offered at CCHS. However, that shouldn’t scare students who are motivated to take this course. While most students who take AP Physics already took Physics or Physics Honors, these courses are not a necessary prerequisite to take the AP class as long as students are motivated to learn the foundational concepts along the way. The class is structured around taking notes during the period and completing practice problems out of the textbook for homework, which are performed on the board by the students following each day of notes. While homework is technically optional, it is essential to complete the homework to perform well on the tests, which make up nearly the entire portion of students’ grades. Students can expect to complete approximately four or five unit tests and one lab per semester. In the second semester, students also complete FRQ tests, which are questions from the FRQs administered during AP exams from previous years. However, students are provided with numerous sets of these questions throughout the year, and thus, the FRQ tests in class can be a good opportunity to balance students’ grades as students see questions they are already familiar with. As a result, with so few assignments in the gradebook, each test grade makes a significant impact and requires students to dedicate much time and effort to completing their homework and ensuring they understand the material. If you are a motivated student and/or are passionate about pursuing an engineering career and learning about physics, a solid grade can be achieved in AP Physics with hard work. 

Physics, written by Noemi Romo

Physics is a class driven by the basic building blocks of all sciences. The course entails a series of mathematical properties enveloping the world surrounding us. Though the class is not exactly a simple class, it’s definitely exciting and generally enjoyable. From personal experience, the course has been challenging, but not so much that it wasn’t doable. The class gives students a new perspective on associating themselves with the world around them. As a physical science, its concepts reproduce the ideas of the inorganic world and how it reacts in conjunction with other objects. The class is very analytical of the ideas that we have been presented with at the youngest of ages. As children, we are taught about gravity, simple machines, energy, heat, light, etc. The class further ingrains the systems that wire the world into your mind and makes the world much more lively. The class teaches how a variety of factors influence the reactionary identity of nature. The class, though challenging, is quite enthralling. It is definitely more for those who are interested in theoretical ideas that provide an analysis of how the world works. Physics definitely includes a lot of mathematical practices which seems to be a turning point for some, but for those who feel comfortable enough with the blend of concepts and mathematics should consider the class. The class should definitely be taken in conjunction with a Pre-Calculus course or at least with prerequisites in Algebra two. The class should be at least considered if a student is curious about how the world functions. Overall, Physics is an enjoyable course that holds itself in a positive direction of both vigor and intrigue.

Foreign Languages

AP Japanese, written by Leo Marcus

AP Japanese is a great continuation of Japanese IV and Japanese Immersion III. If you have enjoyed taking the language and want to continue, you should definitely consider this class. As far as AP classes go, the class itself is not too hard, but the AP test material is challenging and requires practice and studying. I am not a native Japanese speaker, but I had little to no trouble in this class. If you like learning Japanese, and are interested in the subject, this is definitely the class for you!

AP Spanish Language and Culture, written by Sofia Pezo

I would recommend AP Spanish Language to anyone who is interested in expanding their ability to write, read, and converse in Spanish. During the year, you build up your writing, speaking, and listening and reading comprehension skills as you model the different sections of the AP exam. These include writing essays, stimulated conversations, cultural comparisons, and modeling email responses. It might sound like a lot, but it gets easier and easier as you practice all of those skills. There is a definite learning curve throughout the year, as students are expected to exclusively speak Spanish from the beginning. You also will learn more advanced vocabulary and conjugation tenses that will help you improve your Spanish speaking and writing skills. It’s largely a discussion based class, which will be incredibly beneficial to prepare for the speaking segments of the AP Spanish exam as well as being able to hold a conversation with someone in Spanish. The typical weekly workload is not very heavy, and mostly consists of a podcast you listen to outside of class and answer questions about. At the end of the week, there is usually a class discussion about the podcast. Overall, it’s not a very heavy or difficult class. Maestra Jardín and Sra. Dávila are extremely helpful in preparing students for the AP exam.

AP Spanish Literature and Culture, written by Sofia Pezo

In AP Spanish Lit, students read a variety of short stories, poems, romances, sonnets, essays, and excerpts from plays and novels. The texts read in this class, which is taught by Sr. Montero, span from the Middle Ages to contemporary times. Some of the texts are more difficult to read, specifically ones that were written during the Renaissance and the Baroque period (as the Spanish was more advanced and slightly different to the colloquial Spanish used nowadays). Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed most of the texts I’ve read in this class. Weekly homework consists of essays and short response questions, both of which appear on the AP exam. I would recommend those who are interested in literature and who are comfortable reading in Spanish take this course, but especially those who are willing to take time outside of class to study for this class. You will need to have motivation to study outside of class in order to do well, as there are around thirty eight texts that you read in this class that will appear on the AP exam. AP Spanish Lit is very different from AP Spanish Language and not as easy, as it requires more dedication and there is more work. Prospective students should come in ready to seriously develop their Spanish reading comprehension skills. I do wish there was more time during the school year before the AP exam in order to fully analyze each text, but if you enjoy literature and are actively interested in reading in Spanish, I would recommend this course.