This year’s AP exams have presented an overwhelming number of choices for students. Taking their AP classes in either first or second semester, students had to decide whether or not they needed more time to study material before the exams. They had a variety of in-person and virtual options spanning over three testing administrations.
Administration 1 has already begun. These are all in-person exams from May 3-7, 10-12, 14, and 17. Administration 2 starts on May 18 and is a mix of in-person and online. Administration 3, the last round, is fully online and begins on June 1.
Junior Audrey Hasson selected the first administration option for all of her exams. She focused on where her performance would most likely be enhanced, honing in on where she could concentrate the best and get into the testing mindset.
“I tend to perform better in test settings,” Hasson mentioned. Thus, taking all her exams early would knock them out quickly and efficiently.
Many students find themselves worried about time management, but Hasson has made sure to allot needed time to study, whether that was through scheduling or forming study groups. Her study plan laid out everything she needed to accomplish before exam day.
“I realized if I was going to take the AP, I would have to put in a lot of time myself,” Hasson recognized. “I also had to reach out to people to make sure I had a community around me.”
Hasson is also involved with the marching band and Centennial’s Mock Trial team, which both had events and cases scheduled during April and May. She wanted to commit time and effort into her extracurriculars by finishing her exams early.
“Besides,” Hasson pointed out, “A lot of my AP’s were in the first semester, so it was recommended that I take those earlier.”
With virtual exams, multiple factors had to be taken into consideration: having to read and answer everything online, being unable to skip back and forth between questions, and being in an environment that amplifies focus.
Online learning has presented new difficulties in motivation. “I usually feel a sense of urgency when I know that exams are not that far away, but I’ve been feeling an uneasy sense of calmness despite being underprepared,” admitted Isabel Choi, a junior at Centennial. When making her decision, Choi felt that she needed the most time possible and opted to take her exams in the third administration.
“With the in-person lifestyle, it is much more hectic. You feel like you have to do stuff,” Misha Khan, another junior at Centennial, agreed.
“At home, it feels like you’re able to be lazy,” said Khan. She decided to take a mix of in person and virtual exams, choosing to take her Physics C and Calculus AB exam on paper and her psychology and humanities-based exams online.
“My whole life I’ve been doing math on paper,” Khan reasoned. She figured handwriting equations would be much more time efficient. On the contrary, she found it would be easier to type for writing heavy exams, even though reading on paper is ideal
“If it was a regular school year, I’d have more confidence writing on paper. I’m not the fastest typer, but I’ve gotten better this year,” Khan explained. She also mentioned that taking the exam where she learned the material might enhance her performance.
When asked about how she felt about being unable to toggle between questions, which has put a heavy weight on students’ decisions, Khan posed a unique perspective.
“You can’t go back and check your work,” she acknowledged. “But at the same time, you know you can’t stick on one question. I struggle with time, so this may actually help.” Each student learns and studies differently, so choosing what exam to take is all about what works best for the individual.
“I asked friends for advice and, more importantly, evaluated my own abilities by taking practice tests and studying on my own,” Choi clarified. As for the exams she selected, she considered what exams she could prepare well for and what would be the most beneficial for her college career.
“There are a lot of proponents to taking the AP exams,” Hasson supported. “I put in a lot of work this year, so I’d say to just take it, with the chance you will get the college credit.”
Khan agreed, “Even though I’m not completely confident in the material, I think they’re worth taking.”
Deciding the best outcome was highly subjective; taking the exam with your friends and familiar faces may have been ideal, but not well suited for individual needs. Though students have collaborated with friends in their decision to take exams in person or virtually, the choice was up to them.
“I guess it all has its advantages and disadvantages. You can’t accommodate everything; compromises have to be made,” expressed Khan. In such turbulent times, there isn’t really an ideal choice that is free of risks. Nonetheless, students have made the best out of the situation and continue to aim for high academic success.
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