The problems with AP testing at WHS

As the first week of AP testing comes to a close, high school students across the country get a short, yet well-deserved, break over the weekend as many of them enter their second week of AP exams. Each single-subject exam may be used as a substitute for an entry-level college course if a student scores high enough according to their college’s individualized requirements.

With the possibility of college credit on the line, one may think that the school’s administration would do everything they could to make sure students have enough time to study and for exams to run smoothly. However, this could not be further from the truth, and the way AP testing is run at WHS actively contributes to increased student stress during exam weeks.

One of the major problems with the weeks leading up to AP exams is the increased workload that AP students have, even from non-AP classes.

While I do understand that school should not be put on hold for weeks because of AP exams, and I also recognize that AP teachers need to ensure their students are prepared for the exams, teachers assigning copious amounts of required review work is not the best way to help students study. While making study resources available to students is helpful, requiring students to do every assigned review is not productive nor useful.

I am taking four AP classes, and while there are subjects in each class that I have needed to study, I should not need to complete reviews and practice tests on skills that I am confident in when I can use that time to study what I actually don’t know. While I am not disparaging any of my teachers, making review material available and allowing student choice is more efficient and helps develop necessary independent study skills.

Additionally, it is not just an AP student’s actual AP classes that cause stress during exam season. At WHS, it is pretty much impossible to have all five core academic subjects be AP level during the same year. Thus, an AP student is often enrolled in honors or college prep classes, whose teachers usually do not morph their schedule around exam weeks. Some teachers who teach college prep classes to upperclassmen will carry on assigning tests and major assignments the days leading up to AP exams or even on exam days.

This not only piles on work, but can also force students to use their free periods or lunch periods which are incredibly valuable time needed for studying during exams, to make up for missing assignments or make up missed tests.

Of course, teachers cannot be expected to put their classes on hold for three weeks for AP exams they don’t prepare their students for. But, lightening the workload during exam weeks and being more flexible about make-up tests could erase a bit of stress from students who are already anxious about their exams.

While we can’t fix the problems we have already had this year, we owe it to future exam takers to have as productive and stress-free an AP exam season as possible, and that means making some changes.