May is here which means AP exams are too. Students are getting excited for the end of the school year but have to push through when it comes to these exams. Unfortunately, with these exams, stress tags along.
Every year students across the country enroll in Advanced Placement classes hoping to ace their AP tests in May. Students take accelerated coursework, such as AP Exams, to help them prepare for college, earn college credit, and show colleges they can take on rigorous classes.
Naugatuck High School offers 15 AP courses:
AP Computer Science Principles
AP 2D Art
AP English Language & Composition
AP English Literature
AP Calculus (AB)
AP Environmental Science
AP Physics I
AP Human Geography
AP United States History
AP United States Government
The stress to pass these tests starts on the first day of class and only grows as the year passes. Because the content is based on what has previously appeared on the exams, it is believed that we will not only pass the test but also achieve a high score of four or five. Scores of 4 or 5 are what most colleges take if students want to earn credit to benefit them in saving money and not having to worry about retaking the class in college.
Along with students, teachers can also stress over teaching AP courses. From a teacher’s point of view, they may love the AP subject area but end up having to cover an enormous amount of material to improve their students’ pass rates from AP exams.
“For an honors course we have more control. I don’t have as much freedom in an AP course. Not to mention, we have to cover content specific things; whereas in an honors class I have more flexibility. An honors course does not have to cover 400 years of literature but the AP Course does. I think it’s more comprehensive, has more content and the pace is definitely more intense,” said Mrs. Norcross, an AP Literature and English 3 Honors teacher.
Many students experience stress and anxiety, which has an impact on their grades, as well as their self-esteem and ability to learn or study. Success on these kinds of exams is mostly determined by how well you take tests, rather than whether or not you know the material.
When students receive scores that are lower than expected, they may become disappointed and unprepared, despite their best attempts to achieve. In order to achieve well in school, testing has become a skill that must be taught.
“I think AP Exams or standardized tests in general give students a lot of anxiety. However, I think I’m between yes and no whether AP exams are beneficial to students because not a lot of students are good test takers and one test should not reflect all of your hard work and learning in one year but I also think every high school in the country is taking the same exam in the country so it gives colleges a way to compare everyone for the same thing using the same test,” said Britney Amankwah, a senior at Naugatuck High School who received the title of AP Scholar Honor Award.
The pressure placed on succeeding on the AP exam, like many other exams, is just another example of how the education system is stressing out its students. We are still children in high school, and we should not have our worth and intelligence determined by a test that can not accurately assess that when there are so many other factors in play. If the public education system in America is to be accurate and purposeful, significant adjustments must be made to these exams and how they are prepared for, taken, and determined.