Check-in on students during AP exam season


Student Shayda Dadvand studies for APUSH. Photo By: Ruby Matenko

Ruby Matenko, Staff Writer

*Names have been changed for privacy.

It’s AP exam season, which means Beverly students enrolled in AP classes are taking their AP exams through the College Board over the weeks of May 1–5 and May 8–12. Students have studied hard all year for their AP classes, which are highly advanced classes that provide opportunities to earn college credit. The stress of getting a passing grade on the exam (at least a “3” out of “5”) puts a lot of pressure on students.

Newcomers to AP classes may be experiencing more stress due to the new experience of preparing for an AP exam. 

“With AP exams coming up, I’ve been feeling pretty stressed just because it’s the first time I’ve ever taken an AP, and I’m taking two this year,” Student A said.

For most students taking APs, AP exam season puts student stress at an all-time high.
“There are very few times where I’ve been this stressed in my life,” Student B said. “My stress levels are very, very high.”

“I’m going to feel very relieved once all the APs are over, just because this has been the biggest stress of the entire school year,” Student A said.

Planning out studying for these exams seems to be an important part of preparing for the AP exams, since it all feels like a rush to the end.

“I’ve been studying for the exams by taking practice tests, and I also bought books for them, so I read all the content in there, and then take more practice tests and watch videos,” Student A said. “For the night before my AP exams, I plan on taking a practice test and going over any small details that I need to remember.”

Part of the reason why studying for AP exams might feel stressful is because of a lack of closure in the classes themselves, due to a lack of time and surplus of material.

“Both of my classes finished the curriculum, but it was very rushed towards the end,” Student A said, “so I felt like I didn’t really pick up on a lot of the things at the end of it.”

Student B shared her experience with a previous AP class compared to one she is taking this year. “Last year, when I took AP Bio (Biology), [Ms. Weiss] had seven weeks of review for us, and I got a ‘5’… but what I’ve realized is that that was not the norm, that was the exception, and now you finish the curriculum right before the AP, if you even finish the curriculum before the AP. And reviewing is just a me thing now, like I’m left on my own to review.”

The rapid pace and amount of material covered in AP classes throughout the school year can leave students feeling overwhelmed and unprepared for their AP exams.

“I’m just kind of lost at what to do,” Student B said. “With APUSH (U.S. History), I wish that I had had more growth during the year when we did DBQs and LEQs because I feel like I was just trying to get by at that point, because I didn’t care about the AP when I had a chapter test the next day, and so I feel that I didn’t grow enough and prepare enough.”

While AP classes can provide students with real advantages, the harmful effects on students’ states of mental and physical health must be recognized.

“I need to be productive, and that’s something I suck at doing, because I get home from school and I’m exhausted, and I just do nothing, or I take a nap, or I let myself live for a little bit. But then I have to do the work at night, and I never do that because I’m still exhausted by then,” Student B said. “After my last AP [exam], though, I think more than anything, I’ll be relieved that it’s over, because I’ve definitely prioritized APs over my actual health and my life.”

The problem is that once students reach these levels of intense stress, it is hard for that stress to simply go away once the exams themselves are over.

“The thing is that I don’t know if when APs are over if [my stress levels are] going to be that much lower,” Student B said, “because I’m still going to be working for these classes and I’m still also going to be thinking about the AP [exam], even when it’s over… no matter if I actually do well or not, I’m not going to think that I did, and so I’m going to feel like I failed.”

It seems as if the stress will never end — good thing summer break is just around the corner to give students a break from their classes and exams!