How do you feel about APs?
Written By: Anonna Haque
Published on April 2023
APs or Advanced Placement Exams are offered to students who are enrolled in an Advanced Placement class. Usually, students will learn about the subject at a higher level than other students would for about nine months before they sit to take the exam in May. These are timed exams that test the student’s ability to take a stressful exam in a room with other students who are also stressed to finish the test on time. After two months, in July, scores start to roll out and students tend to feel anxious at this moment the most. The score they get determines whether they can receive college credits or not. The AP exam is scored out of 5. Most colleges accept 3’s and above however more prestigious colleges accept 4’s and above. Passing this test and getting the desired score can change a lot for the individual in college. Most AP exams consist of multiple-choice questions and writing. The writing portion has short answer questions and long essay questions known as SAQs and LEQs. Some exams consist of a document-based question known as a DBQ. Other AP courses such as AP Art and Design, AP Seminar, AP Research, and AP Computer Science Principles require a portfolio.
As a junior in Manhattan Hunter Science, I’ve taken 3 AP classes so far: AP World History, AP US History, and AP Language and Composition. I took AP World History last year but did not take the exam simply because the thought of the exam was making me extremely anxious. The pressure of sitting to take the test was terrifying for me. However, this year I will be taking both the AP Language and Composition and AP US History exams. Personally, I don’t feel ready at all for the tests because of four reasons. First of all, I really struggle to focus. Concentration is my weakest point when it comes to academics. Secondly, I have a pretty bad memory. For the AP US History exam, memorization plays a major role in how much someone will score because the writing portions all require lots of vocabulary and background knowledge on the topic. Thirdly, I have anxiety. During tests, my anxiety gets really bad and it becomes suffocating. An exam that is timed makes it much harder to take the exam to my maximum potential. Lastly, I’m worried about the timing. I’m not the fastest writer or reader. My lack of focus makes it hard for me to read quickly, leaving me less time to write.
AP exams are a way to test a student’s ability to memorize information and how fast they could get things done. However, there are many students who don’t do too well with tests due to mental health issues, physical issues, and timing. A student's capability can be tested in many different ways without tests. A student showcasing their work, participating in entertaining activities, and any other academic activity can assess a student's abilities without the pressure of testing.
A junior of Manhattan Hunter Science, Tamzen Lokko, is taking both AP Language and AP US History class and exams this academic year. They stated they are confident enough that they will receive at least a 3 on both their exams. However, they are concerned about the writing. They aren't a very fast writer so they are a bit annoyed with the time limit. Since, this test isn’t much of a big deal for them, they don’t plan on studying for this exam. They’ve taken the AP World History exam before so they’ve got some experience with AP exams. When asked if they had any advice for students who are yet to take their first AP exam, they said, “Honestly, it’s not that big of a deal, if you pass, good for you, if you don’t it doesn’t affect your school grades at all. It’s like an extra credit question”.
I’ve also interviewed a sophomore of Manhattan Hunter Science, Tasnim Muheta. Tasnim is taking both the class and exam for AP World History this year. They are somewhat confident in their skills to take this exam. Due to doing lots of multiple choice reviews in class, they are feeling confident in taking the multiple choice portion of the exam. However, they are not sure about how to go along with answering the written portions of the exam. Since the written portions are time consuming, teachers tend to let the students practice that part of the exam by themselves at home. This leaves some students with questions and unaware of how to tackle this section of the exam. The LEQ and SAQ portion is their largest concern. They plan to study over the spring break to better prepare themselves for this test. They have never taken an AP exam before so they believe that “it's very important to keep up with the material you are learning in class. Make sure you take effective notes and do the readings”.
Based on the interviews from two students in different grades taking different AP exams and courses, it is evident that their fears about the exams remain the same. Both students are anxious about the writing and being able to write everything in time. In almost every AP exam, the writing portion plays a huge role in determining what the student will score. The writing portion also makes up half or more of the test. To put the students at ease, CollegeBoard can experiment with giving students a bit more time per section. CollegeBoard is already changing some things with other exams such as the SAT. They removed the essay portion of the SAT. Hopefully, there will be positive changes made in the future for the AP exams.