Higher Level Courses in University 

Question: Hello! I’m interested in pursuing my BSc at the University of Calgary. They recommend me to take Physics 30 and/or Math 31. I want to take Physics 30, but I’m scared they’ll automatically put me in a higher level course in my first year. What should I do?

Hello and thank you so much for your question!

Since we don’t have any first-hand experience with post-secondary education, we have contacted Ashley, one of our alumni-founders/creators of this site! She says to not worry about being placed in a higher level class because everyone in first year sciences follows the same structure of introductory coursess. Also, you get to choose and build your schedule. However, if you would like to pursue a specific course, you are more than welcome to, but it isn’t really necessary.

If you would like additional information that is more specific to your own aspirations and inquiries, I recommend seeing Ms. Geran!

I wish you the best of luck in your upcoming exams and pursuit of post-secondary education!


Deconstructing the Stress Behind Writer’s Block During an Essay/Personal Narrative Writing Assessment

Question: When writing a timed essay/narrative, how do you stay calm under pressure and come up with ideas quickly without taking up too much time to plan? Also how do you deal with writers block? Lastly, what happens if you aren’t able to finish writing the piece in time?

Hey! Thank you for your question. I understand how difficult it is to stay calm under pressure but the best thing you could possibly do is take 30 seconds to just breathe, once you’re able to control your breath you can better focus on the task at hand.

Furthermore, you have asked about how to come up with ideas on the spot, personally I would offer that you should seek out inspiration the night before a personal narrative- read some blogs or watch some innovative ted talks- soak in ideas and find something that interests you that is open-ended and you can play with. If this still doesn’t work for you, think about the prompt in relevance to your life and how can you now write from your own experience?

In terms of a critical essay, my best advice is to really understand your plot and the evolution of the protagonists in your novel to be able to write about them. Look at some exam prompts and jot some notes down about each as to how you would answer them in relation to your selected novel. The more do this, the more you are better able to understand your novel and apply your knowledge to questions of matter. Basically, what I am trying to get at is with writing an essay or a narrative it should not be an “on the spot affair” if you actually put work into preparing and understanding your novel, you will easily be able to manipulate any prompt to work in your favour.

However, if you are still extremely stumped in the moment, think about what you’ve already written in class and try to see if there is a way to use that prompt to answer the question you are currently given. For an example, let’s say your current prompt is: “How does an individual deal with adversity?” and maybe you’ve already written an essay in class on the prompt, “How does one’s ambition impact an individual?” A good exam tip is to connect them both if you’re prepared as a writer to do so. So perhaps if I was writing about Macbeth I could talk about how his ambition blinded him from reacting rationally towards adversity. This is definitely a stretch and I’d only really offer this to you if you’re prepared to attempt something new and challenging. If you are not, that is also okay, start by jotting down notes about the prompt and then find points that interconnect with the plot/characters of the novel you have studied. Once you get your pen on the page you will be good to go, the more you sit pondering, the more time you waste.

Okay so moving on to writer’s block, honestly the best way to move past it is to seek out inspiration. Don’t wait till you are in the exam room to move past it. Like I said earlier read some blogs, listen to some spoken word poetry, watch some Ted Talks- allow yourself to delve into some thought-provoking art and reflect upon it. It’s not enough to just read a few blogs or watch a few videos, put effort into journaling and responding to what you’re experiencing. Once you do that, I assure you the writer’s block will disappear on its own. But also, relate all of this back to you, ask yourself: how and why does this affect me? When you begin to ask questions, you’re already stimulating thought.

Lastly, if you don’t finish your essay or narrative on time it will still be taken in and will be graded. Whatever you’ve written including your planning will be taken into consideration. You will not get a zero for not finishing, the quality of work you produce is what you’ll be graded on. That being said, it is important for you to strive to meet the exam expectations- it only makes you a better writer and critical thinker.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask them or come and talk to me if you see me around in the hallways. I’d be happy to offer any help or support that I can.


The Three Sciences

Question: Is taking all 3 sciences hard?

Spencer: Taking all 3 sciences isn’t too difficult, though having extra core courses may take some extra organization to do well in all 3. I found that juggling all 3 wasn’t too difficult, and I enjoyed what the three courses offered, though it can be a bit overwhelming towards the end with the later exams, but if you work around those times in your schedule, it isn’t too bad.

To AP Or Not to AP

Question: Should I be considering taking AP classes? What are they like and what AP classes are offered at this school? What sort of marks do I need to get in order to take AP. And also why is learning shout air resistance such a drag?

Aaron: This was one of the decisions I had to decide when I was in Grade 9, so I’m glad this question was asked.

To start, I’ll answer the questions, “What is AP?” AP, or Advance Placement, is a program that is offered that, in my definition, allows you to learn material that is above your grade level ALONG with your current grade curriculum. A teacher recommendation for AP classes, along with marks of 85% or above are required to ask to be in an AP class. You can receive a more accurate definition and what AP classes are offered at FFCA in this document “http://hsc.ffca-calgary.com/download/71806“, page 7.

A big question that I can start with is, “How passionate are you about said subject?” The absence of passion when taking an AP class will make it harder for you to enjoy the AP class. Increased workload, accelerated curriculum, and a higher level of accountability and responsibility between you and the teacher will be needed. But if you are passionate about said subject, the idea of acquiring knowledge will outweigh these factors.

By taking AP classes, it allows you to prepare for the work ethic that is required of you in future grades. I took Math 10CAP because I enjoyed Math and wanted to learn more about the concept of mathematics. In Math10CAP, one lesson, and sometimes two lessons, were covered each day, so another positive is that if the normal stream is too slow for you, AP can help with increasing the pace. In Math AP, we go through the normal Math10C material, and every so often, there will be “Enrichments”, which would be extra material from Grade 11. During unit exams, you would receive two test packages, where one contains the normal curriculum, and another sheet would have AP questions. AP material does not affect your final Math mark, and is a separate category of marks in total. In Science 10AP, there was only one or two “Enrichments” per unit of Chemistry and Physics, and there was none for the Biology unit, so it is not as intense as Math 10CAP. My friend, Rehman, will provide his experiences in his AP classes as well. Essentially, if you take AP classes for the right reasons, they can become a foundation (hehe, pun intended) for your future in high school. However, do not feel pressured to take AP classes. If you are not comfortable in your skills of a subject, you do not need to take AP. I didn’t take AP for ELA because I was not as confident in my skills, so it is okay to be in the regular -1 stream.

To sum this all up, AP classes are more rigorous and more is expected of you, in terms of work ethic and personal responsibility, and the question of “How passionate are you about said subject?” must be taken into account. I recommend taking AP in Grade 10, since it is a year you can experiment and you have time to see if AP is right for you. But after that, it’s up to you to decide if you want to continue in AP or not.



If you’re considering whether to take AP classes or not, I’d suggest you take a look at the following questions: Are you confident in your ability to learn, as well as ask questions when you don’t understand a concept? Do you enjoy the subject that you’re taking? These questions are simply just guidelines I’ve made, based on my own experience in the Advanced Placement (AP) program. In the end, the final decision is really up to you, and the extent to which you’d like to take AP classes. There are three AP classes you can take in grade 10, which are Science 10AP, Math 10AP, and ELA 10AP. The ELA 10AP class is a mix of all individuals taking LA AP, which includes ELA 10AP, ELA 20AP, and ELA 30AP. To my knowledge, the LA AP course is being taught by Ms. Hunnisett next year, who, if you know her, is exceedingly passionate about literature, and as a result, LA AP requires a large amount of reading on your part, where you’ll have to set time aside every day, usually around 30 minutes, to reading literature. You’re also given a reading list, which consists of 5-6 classical novels, which you are required to finish over the summer, prior to your entering of the AP LA class. The part about AP LA that differentiates it from the regular Language Arts courses is the level of discussion that occurs. By building up on the ideas that were presented by others, the students are able to push their understanding of the discussion topic to the point where they’re able to make connections that were seemingly impossible beforehand.

Math 10C AP was a different story, compared to AP LA. Mr. Nayak taught Math 10C AP in the second semester, although originally Ms. Nicol was supposed to be teaching the course. Math 10C AP is an environment where you’ll thrive if you’re able to understand concepts easily, as well as apply them to your math skills. Mr. Nayak did not assign homework, but instead gave optional “Spiral-Review Sheets”, which contained questions on the material learned in class. Math 10C AP, or any AP class, for that matter, is a class you will enjoy only if you appreciate and are passionate about the subject, such as math in this case, as mentioned by my good friend, Aaron. Math 10C AP is an accelerated course, but it also contains grade 11 material, which would be classified as the AP portion of Math 10C AP. The assessments for grade 11 concepts will not be worth any marks, but will only serve to prepare you for Math20-1, or Math20AP if you’re taking AP again in grade 11. If you ever fall behind in Math10C AP, ask for help. There are also help sessions that are offered, which were during Tuesday and Thursday lunches this year. Ensure that you review your concepts, possibly at least every two weeks to save yourself from forgetting anything. Finally, enjoy the course! It’s an AP course, for a subject that you’re passionate about! Don’t take too much stress from it.

Science 10 AP is by far the most similar to the regular Science 10-1 course, as there are only two AP portions, one which is in the Chemistry unit, the other being in the Physics unit. As far as I know, there is no AP subject for Biology. Science 10 AP is made much easier if you focus on understanding concepts rather than actually memorizing information. Homework is also assigned frequently, usually three or four times per week, and homework checks occur for the assigned homework.

Overall, try to enjoy your AP courses! They’re meant so that you can learn at a pace that you find enjoyable, not so that you can stress over having to deal with the work they bring! When you’re in an AP class, you’re also surrounded by individuals who have a similar mindset, and you can make wonderful friendships, as well as push each other to do better. Another important thing to note is that you can always quit your AP class within the first three weeks of the semester if you don’t like it, meaning that your decision now does not bind you to the course.


Aaron, and Rehman

P.S. Because learning how airplanes and birds fly is very uplifting.


Sociology 20 + 30

Question: I took sociology as an elective but I got 50’s in sociology 20 and 30 and I know that that is a pass according to the province but it isn’t for FFCA so does that give me the credits still?

Aaron: Hello! I will be answering your question today! As you already know, the mark that you have received in Sociology is not a pass, in terms of FFCA standards. HOWEVER, the good news is that, with Ms.Geran’s wisdom, anything above 50, in terms of Alberta standards is a PASS. So you will be receiving credits for your course in Sociology. Teachers should not have marks at the 48 or 49 mark, and should be rounded up, but to answer your question, you will be receiving the credits for your course of Sociology. Continue to be encouraged as this is only one of the many courses you have taken this year.

Best wishes,

Physics 20

Ahhhhhh! I’m freaking out about physics 20. I love physics but I’m not that good at it. I don’t know what to do. Help me!

Sunvy: Hi there, I totally get your frustration in this matter. To be honest, I love physics too and I really want to excel in it. I am currently not doing as well as I personally want to ,but you see, every one is unique and each person has their own take on what “not that good” is be it: provincially failing a course (getting below 50%), FFCA failing a course (getting below 60%), a number an individual strives to achieve (personally I strive for a 90% in physics because then my mom would take me to the best Pho restaurant in Calgary) or even failing in the the respect of not gaining any experience. I took AP English in grade 10 and I was so close to failing (my report card that year said I got a 60%, however, later it magically bumped up to 64% on my transcript, but that’s besides the point.) If you look at this from a numerical perspective, one may argue that I “didn’t do so well”. True, and I also still think I didn’t do so well but it was a tremendous opportunity that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I gained so many valuable lessons, not just in English, but real life applications as well.

So some things I suggest are: asking Ms. Sebring or your physics teacher for help, get a tutor, make learning fun, do your homework and get lots of sleep. Ms. Sebring is an awesome teacher and honestly, she does her very best and often steps out of her way to help her students. She loves each and every one of her students so much it is ridiculous. One time she even got us “physics socks” in order to motivate us to be successful. She would gladly help you if you are struggling. She honestly appreciates it when you come and find her to work through things that you need help with. One other thing that I would like to suggest is getting a tutor. They would be able to give you one on one help on physics. But I suggest going to Ms. Sebring first. She is literally always around. She stays after school all of the time.

Another thing I did this year to help me get better is that I had a competition with a fellow classmate. We made bets with each other in who would get the better mark before the term started and it looked something like this: Whoever got the lower grade on the report cards would pay the winner some money. This really helped motivate me as I wanted to win some extra cash and not pay someone else my own money. I’m a poor “university student” for Pete’s sake! I’m even in debt to myself. That’s how broke I am. So if you choose to do something like this to help motivate you do your best, I recommend that you bet against a friend or fellow student that you know will be a challenge in beating. Not necessarily the top student in the class, but one that would challenge you to work hard.

Another thing is that my opponent and I encouraged each other and called each other up a night if we were struggling on a problem We did not become mortal enemies at all. Make sure to still care for the person you are competing with.

One thing that I wish I could have done in order to be more successful is to actually do the homework and sleep more. I admit it, I do not do my homework and I really regret it so much. Don’t leave all your homework to do on the last night like I do. I literally feel so stressed out when I do that to myself. Also, make sure you get lots of sleep every night so you are able to concentrate in class, because I find that more often than not, most of the theory questions are super easy only if I had paid more attention during class. If I could take physics 20 and 30 again, I would definitely do the homework every night and get at least 8 hours of sleep. Oh and did I mention that I’m half cat? I need 10 hours to function properly so I should work on getting more sleep. I’m so sorry that this response is so very long, but I honestly want you to be able to do your best and if you have any other questions regarding anything I’ve said, please don’t hesitate to come and talk to me in person.

Ejaaz: A lot of people are generally afraid of physics because they think it involves a lot of math or they’ve heard rumours from seniors. But the best thing to do is go off your preference. If you LOVE physics, and the idea of it then I say go for it. Physics 20 (from what I remember) builds off what you learned in the physics portion of science 10. And from my personal recollection is hella fun.

And speaking to the mark portion, as long as you put in the work, do the homework daily, and read the notes, YOU WILL BE FINE. Physics is all about reading, under standing the concepts, and knowing how to apply the calculations. Just study daily and you should excel. And the teachers you could get (Seibring or Nayak) are awesome! They will work their best to make sure you succeed. If you have any questions they are always open and willing to help.

All in all you need to ask yourself this question, Do I want to go into a field that will involve physics? (Some possible fields are teacher engineer, physicist etc.) That question is vital when choosing courses especially when you make the transition from grade 10-11. If physics is something you love doing and want to pursue, by all means go for it, just make sure you:
1) Put in the work
2) Ask if you are having difficulty

Choosing Classes for Grade 11

Question: Hi there I am in grade 10 and Idk what to take next year. I dont know what I want to do in Uni nor do i have any hobbies. I dont have many friends so i cant ask them. My parents are always working so i cant ask them. I dont have any siblings. I like to eat apples. I like feathers, there very soft and it calms me down when i touch them.Please help me out. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😉

Ejaaz: First of all, our hearts go out to you. My main piece of advice would be to have a long thought about what you want to go into. I have a few friends who were in an identical situation to you, and what really helped them were:

1) Talking to Ms.Geran- she has been doing this for many years now, and in my personal opinion is best suited to help you decide where it is you want to go. I would recommend setting up a meeting with her in which she will ask questions, that will then help you decide which path would be the best for you.

2) For grade 10, the main conflict is over which science(s) to take. From there, my best piece of advice is, to ask yourself, “do I want to be doing physics, and/or chemistry and/or biology for the rest of my life.” Based on these answers you can pick the science(s) that would be bet suited for you. And if you answer “no” to all, you still do need 1 science in order to graduate so I would personally recommend taking general sciences. (which, just like science 10, is a mix of all 3 sciences).
Just a warning, if you do so decide to take chemistry and get Mr.Dawe, be prepared for some puns, but they only happen periodically 🙂

Iffrah: When choosing courses, taking all 3 sciences is not the best way to go, especially when you don’t need all 3 sciences in the program you decide to go into. Electives are a great way of balancing your schedule so you have something that can destress you, and don’t choose an elective that you aren’t passionate or interested in.

Sunvy: You’re not the only one who’s had this problem. Lots of people don’t know what to do with their university life while they’re in high school, or even in University. What I would recommend is choosing classes that you are passionate about, and just go where it takes you, even sciences. Don’t restrict yourself. Try new things. A great idea would be to join a sports team/drama team. Not only will you make new friends but you will also meet people with similar interests. Even if theres a team that you don’t know much about, try it, who knows, you could end up with a new passion, and even a new idea of where you want to be in the future. The more you’re exposed to things, the more you know what you like.

Julianna: There’s a community that is built within our school: the drama community. You can head over to the drama room at lunch and people will welcome you with open arms! You can definitely get some advice from people in there, and you can also probably make a lot of friends that way! Additionally, through Leadership 25, you should be doing aptitude tests, which will let you know what you’re good at and what you’re interested in pursuing.

Arshnoor: Like Ejaaz said, you can also talk to Ms. Geran for career advice and planning. Ms. Geran is well-known, experienced, and very friendly to talk to. In fact, if you want, you can take a green slip from the main office to fill out your name to talk to Ms. Geran. When meeting Ms. Geran, she can guide you to take courses that will be beneficial for you in the upcoming years. In fact we all recommend that everyone does this at some point – especially in their Grade 12 year!

Ashley: I should mention that any opinions you get should not be what defines yours, as you are in charge of your own future, not somebody else. That said, take everyone’s opinions into consideration. As to address the issue with your parents, leave them a note or something, asking them to arrange a time to talk. Parents tend to be very impressed when you come out to ask to talk, and by booking in a time with them, you know for sure that this talk will happen and that they’ve made time for you. Oftentimes, parents know what they’re talking about, and hence you’ll eventually piece together a plan. Oh, and some advice for next year: You’re gonna need a lot of feathers 😉

Let’s Talk, FFCA