Karely Molina Martinez staff writer
With the end of the school year just around the corner, AP students have begun to take action to prepare for AP exams. Both inside and outside of the classroom, students are studying, reading and prepping for the exams, which will begin in early May.
While continuing distance learning through a hybrid model for the remainder 2020-2021 school year, some AP exams will have the option for students to take them in person or online, while others will only allow for in-person testing. However, some formatting may be different. The AP Psychology exam, for instance, will consist of two different types of essays and multiple choice questions, while other exams like AP US History will look the same as previous years. In some classrooms, students have been preparing for the exam since December using sample Document Based Questions (DBQ), Short Essay Questions (SEQs) and AP practice tests.
“I think the difficult part is actually mastering the material and the exam format, so while getting this information is a crucial step, it’s not the part I’m worried about,” junior Maya Goldkorn said. “I feel intimidated by the amount of work still to be done, but I think I generally have things under control. I would say I’m most concerned about my AP Language exam because it’s the least content-heavy, but I’m preparing for everything slow and steady.”
“I think, just like any year, you kind of get back what you put in. If you’ve been working really hard and preparing as you should, I think you should be ok, but also this [year] is kind of a curveball. And I’m especially concerned about going back to school at this point because it’s definitely been an adjustment for students and for teachers to kind of get this online learning down. It’s really crunch time for preparing for AP exams,” Goldkorn said.
While preparing for the exam can be difficult, Goldkorn feels the most stressful part is not knowing what is going to happen in regards to the AP exams.
“In terms of the actual exam, obviously it’s stressful, but I think the only stressful part about it more than last year is that we don’t really know what’s going on,” Goldkorn said. “But I’ve been preparing as I normally would be regardless. For people in my grade, this is kind of the only version of AP testing we know because last year was also online.”
As the AP exam date approaches, some students are concerned with the lack of information they have received regarding the exam. This lack of information has affected how students plan to study for the AP exam. Junior Samantha Maybaum feels that the district and AP Classroom alike should be doing more.
“I feel like the way that the district and AP Classroom has communicated what we’re going to do regarding AP [exam] has been mediocre at best. They could have done a much better job communicating about the APs with the student body,” Maybaum said. “The constant changing of the bell schedule has me miffed. Going back is now completely out of the question. I now need to acclimate with this new schedule sprung onto me. So going back to school is no longer a concern. I’m still a little confused on the matter of getting information about the exam, but I have other things to worry about now.”
Because Maybaum does not have the information she feels is necessary and is receiving information from “sources [she] can not trust” like online webforms and Instagram, she is not able to create an appropriate study plan to prepare for the exam. Instead, Maybaum has taken it upon herself to diversify her study outside of the classroom.
“I definitely can’t speak for other people, but everyone is worried about it because it is a big test. We all feel like we need to spend more time studying. [On my own] I read over my notes, take my own personal notes, read over my teachers’ lecture notes, I read sample essays that previous years have done, I’ve been watching prep videos on YouTube, summaries on YouTube, and I’ve been talking to some kids who took the AP exam last year, but they got a modified version,” Maybaum said.
This year, AP is allowing students to participate in the in-person or online version for some of the exam. While the decision is entirely up to the school, some students like junior Kate Kotylar are hopeful for an online version.
“I heard there was an online option and an in-person option. From what I hear from Mrs. Garratt, we are doing the in-person option in May. If I had the choice, I would take online exams. One, I am used to AP exams online, I took my last year’s AP Euro exam online, we’ve been doing everything online for the entire year and also I only know where I’ve been. I don’t know where everyone else has been or what they’ve been doing, and my mom has an autoimmune disease, so even if I am wearing a mask and keeping social distance, I can’t guarantee anything if I’m out in such a public place,” Kotylar said.
Other students would also prefer to take an online exam because of the way they have been learning this past semester. Junior Rhianna Abeel is cornered that, through an in-person exam, she would not be able to manage her time efficiently.
“[I would prefer] online. I feel this is a thing a few people are concerned about. I personally haven’t handwritten an essay in a long time, so I’m a bit concerned that I’ll get too caught up in writing and not realize how much time I’ll have left. Online might be a little bit easier, you can check how much time you have, I think it’ll make it a little bit easier for time management,” Abeel said.
Taking an in person written exam proves to be a pattern among other students, especially because of the amount of school work which has been done online this year. For senior Eva Levin, sitting down to take the AP exam seems like a “big concern.”
“For tests, I have not taken a written test where I sit down and bubble things in, in over a year. The only time I’ve taken a written test is for stats. I’ve done everything else, my homework, [has] just been typing. So I’m very concerned that I’m not going to be ‘well-rehearsed’ in taking a physical test,” Levin said.
As students receive new information, it’s a constant reminder of how close the AP exams actually are. For some students like junior Kaila Nassir, it can be nerve wracking.
“Now it’s official that the two AP exams I am taking are going to be done virtually. I’m pretty nervous, I haven’t had much time to study due to all of my other homework and SAT prep, so I’m scared I won’t be prepared enough when the day arrives,” Nassir said. “I believe the AP Psych exam is scheduled for May 20, and the AP Lang exam is scheduled for May 26. Having a finalized date makes it feel very real. i’ve been hearing about the AP exams since August and i always thought it was so far away, and now that i’m this close, it’s pretty scary. [I’m] nervous, but I’m just going to try my best to prepare until that day comes.”
Earning a successful score on this exam is extremely important to students who have put in countless hours of work into each class. For Nassir, a lot of work has gone into preparing for this final exam, so getting a good score is crucial.
“I bought two prep books, one for lang and one for psych. I’ve been trying to do those. Because for psych we do a lot of reading, so every night I have to read sections of the textbook. So, it’s the textbook reading and using those prep books, which I haven’t been able to use too much unfortunately, because I get a lot of homework in both of those classes too,” Nassir said. “I’ve taken a lot of notes, like this is the first year I’ve ever finished a notebook before the school year ended. I’m just trying to go back and remind myself because there are a lot of topics on the test.”
Nassir hopes that her effort and studying habits will pay off in the end.
“I’m trying my best, but there’s really only so much you can do on your own. I really want to do well on it because if you’re taking the time to take an AP class and your puting all the effort during the school year, it would be such a bummer to take the AP test and not pass,” Nassir said. “I’m going to feel like, ‘What did I do that for?’ So, there’s also that added stress. I don’t have as many resources as I would if we were in person, but my teachers have been doing a good job to try to accommodate as much as they can. It’s just that the situation is out of everyone’s control.”