The AP tests are coming up (well, actually, we have more than a month, but I’ll deal with that shortly. That means that frantic studying, class review sessions, the mass purchase of review books you just have to have if you want to do well on the APs, and general skyrocketing of the stress levels of sophomores, juniors, and seniors (and a few freshmen) has begun.
Now, isn’t this all defeating the purpose of an AP test? The APs are supposed to be determining whether you have learned material sufficiently well to bypass it in college. If you have to review frantically for it, you don’t really know the material well enough to bypass it. The problem is that since the APs are on a curve, since many people do try to cheat the test this way, you really don’t have much choice.
Relatedly, of course, there is the test prep. There are at least 8 evening review sessions run by the AP US history teachers in the month before the test. The school, having already given us the text book and a book of documents from various time periods, gives us a huge AP review book. We’re not even done with the history covered on the test and we’re reviewing. Why not just cover everything and then if you really have to, use the week or two before to go over anything that kids don’t remember well?
And finally, there’s the stress. The “Oh my god what if I don’t do well?!” sort of reactions. Well, then you don’t do well. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get a 5 on the APs. If you get a 3 or a 4, well, that’s not terrible either. The APs simply are not worth the huge deal that kids and their parents make them into.
So really, if people would just calm down about the APs and treat them as a measure of how well they learned things rather than an oracle telling them the course of their entire lives, things would be much easier, more stress free, and honestly they would probably do better.