Apr 29

Science Struggles: High School Biology, Physics, and Chemistry

Adapting to science classes can be one of the most difficult adjustments for students to make in high school. Below we’ve listed out aspects that can make the adjustment to these classes difficult and what needs to be focused on for success.


Biology is one of the easiest classes to study the wrong way for. Most students spend hours sitting in front of flash cards when succeeding on the AP Biology Exam requires a whole different skill set in addition to reading and memorization. Students tend to realize this too late in the year, which hurts their score and prevents them from spending vital time on other classes and extracurricular activities. To prepare for the exam as well as make memorization easier, students need to be fully solid on:

  • Experimental Thinking like testing hypotheses, creating controls, and analyzing data
  • Overarching Biological Concepts like energy, chemical reactions, and relationships between biological processes


Physics is a notoriously difficult subject — and for good reason. Studying physics means learning a new way of understanding the world around us. To really excel on the AP Physics Exam, students must be tackling and following the material from the beginning. Everything taught in the Physics course builds on itself, so if a student hasn’t been able to ask their questions and really master the material from the start, by the months leading up to the AP test it will be too late. A common misconception is that strong math students will invariably excel in Physics. But while strong math skills can be useful, in some students this can even be a disadvantage. Strong math students may tend to treat physics problems like math problems and fail to see the physical parts of the problem.

To really succeed in Physics, all students need to be able to ask questions and dig into the material until they’ve trained their brains to see the world like a physicist.


AP Chemistry is arguably the most difficult science class a student can take at an AP school, but students tend to realize this too late in the game, which undoubtedly impacts their grades negatively. In short:

  • Physics = Problem-Solving + Math
  • Biology = Memorizing + Reading + Experimental Thinking
  • Chemistry = Problem-Solving + Memorizing + Strong Conceptual Element

Even if you devote time to solving problems and memorizing (which you should be doing DAILY), there is a strong conceptual side of chemistry that is both difficult to understand and difficult to apply. Success comes from a seamless connection between concepts and the problem-solving, which is hard to do on your own.

To meet the distinct difficulties for each of these three classes, we have group classes meeting throughout the year to ensure that students are successful in both their school classes and on the AP exams. The full schedule of classes and descriptions can be seen here.

If you have any questions or inquiries regarding the above subjects please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at support@tokyoacademics.com

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