AP Exams. Good or Bad?

Sophie Maxwell, Staff writer

AP exams. The time of year high school students constantly dread. They have worked all year in a class, and now they must show how much they have learned by taking a test.

Last year I had one AP class: AP Human Geography. This is considered by many to be the easiest AP exam, and I agree. The only studying I did was reading the Princeton Review and taking a practice test. I got a 5.

Obviously I am glad I got such a good score, but now I worry that I am not preparing enough for the exams I have this year: Gov, World History, and German. Because I found last year’s so easy, and that is the only baseline I have, I fear that when I take this year’s, they are going to be much harder than I expected them to be.

Something I hate about these exams is how much writing there is. In AP World History, for example, there are three short answers (approximately a paragraph each on length), the long essay, and a document based question (also an essay). That is the amount of writing in history. Imagine how much writing there is on an exam such as AP Lang.

What’s worse is that for the writing parts of the exams for subjects like history and science, students have to know a lot of details about very specific things. But for the multiple choice of history exams, they are stimulus based. What this means is that students are given a passage or an image and they have to analyze it. Of course studying helps because it gives you background knowledge of the passages, but you don’t need to go too in depth on any specific topic. What you really have to study for is the writing. And because you don’t know what the prompts will be beforehand, you end up having to study in depth about everything, which is virtually impossible. So you take the test, and you either get lucky and get things you studied a lot for, or you get prompts where you have no idea what it is talking about.

Another problem with AP exams is the time period in which they are given. My birthday is May 13, right in the middle of the two weeks, these exams are administered. What this means is that I get to have the joy of spending my birthday trying to study. I also just know that one of my years of high school, I am going to have an exam on my birthday. Not exactly ideal.

But even though I have all these complaints about the exams, I actually think they are good. These are college-level classes, and the tests are purposely very difficult because in order to get a 5, you really do have to know everything about the subject. That is the point.

I also like that every exam in the same subject is the same. Standardized tests and such, where different people get different questions, really bother me because people might have done much better/worse if they had been given the other version, which makes them not very fair.

That is why even though I hate studying for them and the writing is horrible, I think AP exams are the right way to prove that you worked hard in the classes you took in a given year.