Students Struggle as AP Exams Loom

Marisa Mendosa, Art Director

April 30th, 2020

With everything going on, it’s sometimes hard to even think about AP testing. Teachers are reducing the workload for students, but with only a few weeks left before virtual testing commences, it feels necessary to spend every second studying. 

But it’s not that easy. With six or seven periods of classes assigning at-home assignments, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. 

Junior Vivian Gerstein has five AP classes, AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP United States History, AP Spanish, and AP English Language and Composition. Her experience has been overwhelming and filled with stress. 

“I am having a hard time motivating [myself] to study when I don’t really feel like I have good expectations for what the tests will be like. Also, it’s overwhelming with all our classes and so many additional materials we probably should be using to study and also trying to find time to do non-school related things,” she said.

Despite changes to the AP Curriculum, students are still struggling to prepare.
Marisa Mendosa/Pepperbox

Additionally, remote learning is especially difficult for complex AP classes. Junior Maya Scanlon has three AP classes, including AP Biology, and AP Environmental Science. 

“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the beginning of the week with everything being assigned all at once on top of taking the time to study for the exams by myself,” Scanlon explained. “A lot of the non-AP classwork that seemed to be busy work on a normal day at school is now at home, and I have to do it on my own time which I’ve found the most difficult to find motivation.”

Junior Miles Johnson also has three AP classes, AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, and AP English Language and Composition, and has experienced some struggle especially with learning math. 

“Being in that classroom environment makes all the difference, especially with Calculus as it’s much easier to learn with teachers in person and classmates do discuss problems with,” he explained.

Other students are struggling with more hours at work in the service industry or caring for younger siblings now that all schools are closed. 

Though now more than ever, the internet has a ton of online resources students can use to study and prep. College Board and Khan Academy are popular test prep sites students and teachers are turning to for practicing, including lectures, some practice questions, and other resources.

“The Collegeboard AP Bio videos have been actually pretty helpful and I like Khan Academy but it’s hard to motivate to do extra things outside of what is assigned in the classroom,” Gerstein explained. “I know we can’t do anything about it but, shocker, regular school in person is much better for learning, I think.”

But even with all those resources, they require internet access to utilize them. If an AP-student has poor internet connection, it does them a huge disservice with testing taking place online and teachers assigning online work. 

Procrastination levels are even higher right now, as well. It is so easy to get lost in a rabbit hole on Instagram, YouTube, or something else with all this time, but that AP test date creeps closer and closer with every passing day. 

Scanlon described her lack of motivation to study saying, “I haven’t touched my APES study booklet. Otherwise, I have started studying for AP English and AP Biology, but I feel that I don’t have enough motivation to study as much as I would like to.” 

She acknowledged how teachers are requiring certain forms of studying, but that doesn’t always work for every student.

The College Board switched the testing format for students to take at home removing all multiple-choice questions completely and only including free-response questions. Junior Mina Abbassi, who has four AP classes, AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP United States History, and AP English Language and Composition, feels “relieved.”

“I’m a much stronger writer than I am a multiple-choice test taker, so having all the tests be free responses really alleviates stress for me,” she said. “The only con might be that I’ll get too relaxed and stop making sense, or they’ll make the response prompts difficult or hard to read first glance, which is usually what may trip me up on a written test. Sometimes when I’m writing I lose focus and forget to cover everything, so I’ll have to be careful about really reading everything and making notes of the information so that it doesn’t happen.

The local primary testing dates will take place from May 11-22 at 9:00 A.M., 11:00 A.M., or 1:00 P.M. lasting 45 minutes. 

When asked about an opinion on the shorter test, Johnson stated, “I’m definitely feeling more stressed about a shorter test. The information college board and other sources are putting out get confusing and overwhelming. I also feel stressed because I feel like I have to prove myself in a very short 45 minutes and I’m afraid if I have a rough time getting into the groove then the test will be done before I flip my testing switch on.”

But in due time, this pressure hanging over all AP students will be relieved. Until then, we all will just have to manage and cope until it’s over.