Opinion: AP Exams Should and Could Be Avoided

Sarah Dewey, Staff Writer

Staying up late, buying study books, making flash cards and endless amounts of stress are typical for Advanced Placement (AP) students. 

The main goal of their courses is to prepare them for one test in May: the AP exam. 

Some say if you don’t want to take an AP exam, don’t take an AP class. However, most students, including me, feel it’s almost required to take one of these classes if you want to be accepted to a good college. 

Students that were accepted to the University of Georgia took an average of six AP classes, while students that were accepted to Georgia Tech took anywhere between seven to 13 AP classes. 

Freshman Nicole Serrao took the AP Government and Politics exam this year. It was her first AP exam. 

“I studied for weeks for the exam,” Serrao said. “I stayed up until 1 a.m. for multiple nights in a row, just trying to take in as much knowledge as I could.” 

Other students feel this way, too. We cram as much as we can, whenever we can, remembering our goal of getting a perfect score on the exam. Still, this idea of a five-out-of-five seems out of reach for us.

For me, studying included using study books, making flashcards and taking countless practice exams. 

If students fail the test, they still receive high school credit. A lot of AP students including me, however, take these courses to get college credit. 

Suzanne Wren teaches AP Language and Composition and AP Literature and Composition. 

College classes cost money and take up time; if a student scores high on the AP exam, he or she can exempt taking it in college because he or she will already have the credits,” Wren said. 

This future-determining exam has caused immeasurable amounts of stress. 

“I understand they want to test our knowledge from this year, but I’ve spent so many hours studying, I can’t even remember how old I am,” said freshman Megan Dunn, another student who took the AP Government and Politics exam. 

Sophomore Brooklyn Grzesiak took the AP World History exam this year and the AP Human Geography exam last year. 

“The stress leading up to the exam is unmatchable,” Grzesiak said. “This year, I definitely studied more than last year because I felt like this exam was more important.” 

According to Institute of Education Sciences, “Elevated stress can serve as a risk factor for students’ academic and mental health problems.” 

Studies have shown that students taking AP classes have a higher risk for depression, and students taking these classes have shown a higher percentage of anxiety. 

Some students spend so much time worrying about AP exams and in turn fall behind in the rest of their classes. 

“Passing the exam became the only thing I could think about,” Dunn said. 

My proposed solution is all AP teachers use tests from the College Board each unit and ditch the end-of-year exam. Only some teachers use exam questions provided by the College Board while the rest make their own tests. College Board is the company in charge of AP classes in addition to ACT and SAT tests. 

Since teachers don’t have assignments they must give, they teach their students in different ways. This is sometimes viewed as unfair, as one teacher could miss teaching content from the end-of-year exam. 

Uniform unit tests would not only reduce the risk of the courses being unfair but also eliminate the need for the AP exam since students across the country would be tested the same each unit instead of in May, where they will need to rack their brain for information from August.  

“Honestly, the exam is so unneeded,” Serrao said. “In my opinion, it would be better for [College Board] to monitor our learning throughout the year, instead of just one big exam.”