AP Exams Sweeping WHS

Paige M.

Staff WriterAP exams 2

As AP Exams approach, students are buckling down and focusing more than ever before. An AP test not only covers all of the extensive information in the course, but a pass or fail determines whether or not the class will count towards college credit. These credits could potentially mean that the student can dismiss that class from his or her schedule in college, graduate early, save money from taking the course in high school, and start classes based upon a major earlier. These tests are a huge deal, and to many a very stressful time, especially for those students who are taking more than one AP class.

Exams start on May 5th and continue on until May 15th. Each test costs $89 and usually lasts around four hours. Rules are very strict for many reasons, mostly being that this is one of the highest levels of testing that a student can take before entering college. Credit is awarded for passing this exam; therefore, the College Board does not want anybody cheating or using resources other than their own intelligence and knowledge from the past yearly course. For example, the College Board advises test takers to wear a plain shirt or school spirit attire because of possible clues and hints that could be shown in the design of a shirt. They also do not allow test takers to do any activities after the test, including reading, using technology, or even leaving the testing room to go home. All students must stay in the room until the testing time is up and the tests are taken back into the hands of the test administrator. Students must also be very punctual. Late arrival to a test will result in an inability to take the test at all. No make-ups are available for an AP test unless the student has a doctor’s note with specific reasons for his or her absence. AP testing is not taken lightly by those who administer it, and that is made very clear before anybody enter the exam room.

Grading for the AP exam is different for each subject, but what each exam does have in common is the fact that they are scored from a 1-5 point scale, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest possible score. Most colleges accept scores as low as a three for passing credit. Each year, the test is graded based on how well the students did on the exam, and from there they scale the scores and administer results. These results are given back during the summer using a code that is assigned to each individual prior to taking the exam. Tests are graded by teachers who take a week of their summer and fly to a destination chosen each year to grade these exams. The teachers must have been teaching the course for three years or more to be able to attend this grading session. Most of the tests are graded in two parts, the first being multiple choice questions and the second being some type of free response or essay type questions. Both parts count for half of the overall score. Grading is taken very seriously, and there are very strict requirements students must meet on free responses and essays.

AP review sessions are going on all the time before and after school to help spark the memory of students about past chapters and units. These sessions happen usually two or three times a week for each subject, and there is always a large turn-out. For example, Dr. Krista Webb has AP World History review sessions Tuesday and Thursday mornings and afternoons, and AP US History review sessions Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings and afternoons. During the morning and afternoon sessions for each day she teaches the same topic so that if a student cannot make it to the morning one by chance, he or she has an alternate chance to attend the afternoon session. Dr. Webb said, “I just love the time of the year when AP review sessions role around. It just means that we are that much closer to reaching the end of the year.” Students really appreciate these sessions and take advantage of the opportunity. Jessica Batten, a junior, said, “AP review sessions helped so much last year, so this year I am using them to my advantage and going to as many as I can.” Based on how well students use their time to study and go to these extra review times is sometimes the deciding factor between passing the test and failing the test.

Students are beginning to become extremely worried about these very important exams, and nerves are already beginning to settle in. Kennedy Reeg, a junior, said, “The more tests you take, the less nervous you get about the actual test-taking process, but that doesn’t mean that the test gets easier.” Because there is college credit on the line, it is difficult to be confident in the amount of cumulative information one can remember, and many people end up being nervous for the test in the weeks to come, especially those that have yet to take an AP exam. Once one has experience with the environment, timing, and other characteristics of the test, in the years to follow, the student can focus more on information about the subject and less about the details of the testing day.

One of the many aspects of test taking that teachers like to go over before the exam are major strategies. These include how to choose the best answer for the question, how to perform the best on free response questions, and how to write essays quickly and efficiently. Blake Heyer, a sophomore, said, “This isn’t my first AP exam, so I feel like I have some advantages because I know what I’m walking into. The biggest thing that I’ve learned is to watch your time and to not spend too much time on one question because that really got me last time.” Students are advised to take a suggested amount of time on each section of the test in order to stay in the time limits of the test and not be rushed. For those questions that are nowhere within one’s knowledge, some teachers advise that students pick one letter before the test to be the “guessing letter.” This is the answer choice that the student will choose whenever he or she is stumped on a question. College Board studies show that C and D are two of the most common answer choices of past AP exams, so these are two great letters to choose. The reasoning behind this is that instead of guessing a different answer choice each time, students have a higher probability of getting more answers correct if they answer the same letter. In addition, test takers are not penalized for the questions that they get wrong, but rather they are only rewarded for those that they got right, making it ideal to answer all questions on the exam. Many students are also purchasing AP exam review books, which give basic tips on strategies, and then continuing on with information reviewing the class, and later on taking practice tests to prepare the student and see how well they have progressed.

Overall, this time of the year is a very stressful time for everyone, and even more so for those students preparing for AP exams. Once the tests are over, assignments and reviewing will be less chaotic in those classes, and the pressure will be off, but not completely because scores are not released until mid-summer. As Woodstock students prepare to take these exams, the teachers and other staff members are confident in the performance of the students. Good luck to all of the Wolverines participating!


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