Students struggle to balance AP homework and sleep

Students taking AP Government, like senior Andrew Pilon, spend hours on weekly outlines. Photo illustration by Kacey Hsu
Students taking AP Government, like senior Andrew Pilon, spend hours on weekly outlines. Photo illustration by Kacey Hsu

By Kacey Hsu,
Managing Editor–

Students often complain about how AP and Honors classes don’t follow the homework policy, as they must spend their weekends doing homework and frequently stay up late on weekdays in order to finish assignments. Completing lengthy assignments and getting a reasonable amount of sleep, however, can be a challenge.

Senior Andrew Pilon currently takes AP Physics, AP Calculus and AP Government. He has found the AP courses’ nonexistent homework policy to be reasonable “because they are supposed to be college level courses, and students taking them know full well what they entail.”

Pilon finds that he tends to procrastinate frequently, which makes things harder for himself.

“Normally it isn’t too much as long as I stay on top of things, but it’s definitely more difficult to keep up than with the regular courses,” he said.

Although Pilon accepts the large amount of homework, he still gets less sleep than he should.

“I definitely get a lot less sleep than I should when I have a lot of homework, especially since I don’t get home until about six most days because of sports,” Pilon said, adding that he falls asleep in class “all the time.”

One time, he fell asleep in second period without his teacher noticing, since he was seated in the back at a lab table.

“So I ended up sleeping through break and waking up partway through third period,” he added.

During his sophomore year, junior Deni Velagic dedicated much of his time throughout the week to studying for AP Chemistry, and at some nights did not get to sleep until 1 or 2 a.m.

This year, Velagic is managing to cope with the homework and sleep balance, often dedicating Sundays to finishing labs or studying for tests.

“The homework over the weekends can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, but if you split it up between Saturday and Sunday it typically is not too bad,” he said.

AP Chemistry showed Velagic that AP classes should only be taken if you’re familiar with the subject. Because of this, he only signed up for AP classes he thought he was truly prepared for, including AP Calculus and AP US History.

Junior Sydney Johnstone originally signed up for AP Biology and Spanish 4 Honors this school year, but chose to drop biology early on.

“It was because I’m also taking anatomy, and the two together is way too much work,” she said.

Johnstone believes the lack of a homework limit for AP and Honors classes is unfair.

“Even though it’s a college level class and college classes don’t have homework policy, this is still high school,” she said. “For people taking multiple AP and Honors classes, there’s not enough time in a day for all of that homework, considering that most people have after-school activities.”

Despite her support for a strict homework policy, Johnstone said the “no policy” rule has not affected her personally.

“For music theory, we didn’t have much homework, and my Spanish teacher gives a reasonable amount of homework,” Johnstone said.

She feels sorry for people like her older brother who took multiple AP courses and had to keep up with finding time for homework, sports and sleep.

“He always had practice to go to and then would always be staying up until 12 trying to finish all of his homework. He also pulled a lot of all-nighters to study for his AP classes,” Johnstone said.

Pilon advised those considering AP and Honors classes next year to “go for it only if you think you’re up for the challenge.”

“Don’t overexert yourself by taking more than you can handle, and expect a lot of work from most of the classes,” he said. “If you’re taking it purely for the weighted grade or because it looks good, then don’t do it. You should enjoy the course that you’re taking because it’ll make it a lot less stressful, and always keep in mind the number of hours you need to sleep.”

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