A Project for Better Journalism chapter

AP students worried about preparedness for exams

As many of us know, AP classes are probably the most stressful classes you’ll ever take in high school, said by pretty much every student who has taken AP classes.

Advance Placement (AP) is a program in the U.S. and Canada established by College Board. These classes  offer college-level classes for high school students.

Due to  COVID-19, students and teachers weren’t able to complete the 2019-2020 school year in person. This meant that College Board had to think quickly and efficiently to ensure that students have an opportunity to earn college credits. They created at home exams and as you can imagine this method did not go as smoothly as everyone had hoped for. 

The 2020 AP exam didn’t go so well for many students. Upon taking the exams many students recalled that the website provided for them malfunctioned, leading them to having to retake the AP Exam. There were many videos on social media, including TikTok, showcasing  students crying and distressed about their scores. 

On the day of the exam, the College Board website lagged for many students and their “submit” button was reported to have developed a fault  In addition to that, students were not able to attach their responses to the exams questions, something that was ensured by multiple how-to videos demonstrated by the college board administration. 

Twitter users react to the difficulties faced by many students during the Spring 2020 AP testing season.

AP classes require a lot of studying and commitment. It is necessary to pay attention in every single class, do all the work given, take good notes and study on your own time in order to be prepared for the AP exam by the end of the school year. If a student fails the AP exam, it doesn’t mean they fail the course, it just means that they don’t receive college credits.

Many teachers believe that the AP exam was fair to all the students who had been working hard all school year in order to get a passing score.

“One advantage that students have during virtual learning is their technological intuition,” said AP Government teacher, Mr. William Poulakos. “Since students are constantly using and learning about technology outside of school hours, it will not benefit them during school.  Virtual learning works well with high level classes, but in-school settings work better.  The value of having a teacher present and active is intangible and gives the students a better opportunity to learn the high level thinking skills that they should develop during these courses.”

It is very difficult to stay afloat in all your courses while being in class at home. Virtual Learning alone is already stressful as it is. AP classes are a whole other level of stress because everything you learn is important. You have to memorize everything you are learning throughout the year to be prepared for anything that comes with the exam. 

“Plus since we’re literally in bed, it’s more of a struggle to get up in the morning to go to class.” said junior Christina Doobay.

Virtual Learning doesn’t work well or benefit many students. Many students need a teacher to be right in front of them teaching the lesson in order to be focused. It’s hard having an AP class during this time because there are so many distractions. In many cases, students feel as though they are not completely understanding the topics they are supposed to comprehend. I feel as though I’m not learning anything. I use my notes for assignments, but my brain isn’t actually memorizing or completely understanding the lesson.

“I would say that I would like to go back to school since it would incentivize me to actually learn,” said senior Juanfer Garcia. “The goal is to just be done with it.” Answers are easy to find online and it is kind of impossible to not “cheat” on assignments because there’s no teacher telling us not to.

“I think it will be easier to get a good grade in but harder to actually understand the material,” said Garcia. “We just want to get it done and since it’s at home, it’s easy to get the answers and grades.”