AP Classes Should Mean More Than A Score On A Piece Of Paper

AP Classes Should Mean More Than A Score On A Piece Of Paper

AP courses focus solely on an exam with unfair time limitations


As an honors student, the teachers and counselors in my high school stressed the importance of taking Advanced Placement classes in order to get into the college of my choice. I had all the authority with their high expectations for me breathing down my neck while I chose classes, and my own perfectionist voice in my brain telling me I had to do the absolute most. Thus, I ended up in four AP classes my senior year of high school.

Going into AP classes, teachers always emphasize the importance of doing well on the exam that comes at the end of the course. This exam is supposed to demonstrate your mastery of the subject at hand and is something I take major issue with. It has turned into focusing solely on doing well on the exam and is void of any real focus on actually learning the material.

An example of an AP exam is the English Literature and Composition exam, which consists of 55 multiple choice questions in 60 minutes and three essays in 120 minutes. This is a ridiculous expectation for any high school student, coming from someone who had an A in the class all year, was told by my teacher that I had a head for English, and got only a three on the exam. Although English is a subject that comes naturally to me, I am also someone who works much better when I have time to take care in what I am doing and actually put thought into my work.

Almost all the AP classes I took went down the list of objectives the Collegeboard releases while integrating mass amounts of test prep so we felt "prepared" for the exam in May. I only ever had one teacher who was different: my AP Physics teacher.

Mr. Conte is someone who is very passionate about the concepts he teaches. He has told us that his AP class was more than just what was on the exam and he always took his lessons a step further than he had to. He applied each concept to the greater world and universe and I felt like I truly learned much more in his class than I ever did before. I didn't end up taking the exam, but I left that class feeling curious and motivated to learn more about the world we live in.

Moving forward, AP classes should be about more than just preparing for an exam. You can get college credits from doing well on the exam, so I understand why it is highlighted so much throughout the course. However, I do not believe this is a good system. I loved my Literature class and I did really well in it, but I won't be getting any credit for all the work I put in because I didn't get a high enough score on the exam. How is that fair?

Many other AP students are in the same boat I am. I spent my whole high school career working hard in these college-level classes, but if I didn't get a four or five on the exam, it doesn't even count. All that work was for nothing since most of these classes are driving towards a high score.

Collegeboard, I am reaching out to you. Make AP courses about exploring the subjects at hand, challenging hard-working students, and expanding the mind. It should be less about an exam with time restrictions that aren't reasonable and more about actually learning.

Teachers, this is also a message for you. Don't limit your lessons to what the exam is to hold. Be passionate, like Mr. Conte, and share your knowledge with your students in a way that will inspire them to be more than a number on a piece of paper.

Cover Image Credit:

Amanda Donahue

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.


1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten

Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

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12 Study Tips For Midterm Season

The second most stressful time of the year is among us. Get the best results, for grades and yourself, with these 12 helpful tips!

Midterm season is easily one of my least favorite times of the year. It's not as intense as finals week, but you don't have summer in close reach. Also, it's stretched out over a month, rather than a week. And who decided multiple midterms in once class was OK? Below I've compiled some of the best tips I've followed to make studying the best it can be.

1. Start with success

Studying starts in the classroom. I know it's hard, but pay attention in lecture. It will serve you so much better when you are trying to remember what that one concept was the night before. Also, taking organized notes keeps you attentive and will help you later. I like to make my notes really colorful and add pictures when necessary to really understand the topics.

2. Make a playlist to get you in the zone

If you like listening to music every second of the day like myself, then make a studying playlist! Classical music, rap, instrumentals, pop music - there's so many possibilities. Find what works best for you and make a playlist to get you in the zone. Right now, I'm really digging the Spotify playlist "Lo-Fi Beats" to get my best work done.

3. Set goals

Goal setting is imperative to getting shit done. I like to make to-do lists for my day, making sure I know what I need to finish before bed. It helps to include exactly what chapters you want to master. At the end of the day, it is super satisfying to check off all of your accomplishments.

4. Find your perfect study space

Mine is at a table on the third floor of Thompson. Your's might be at your dorm room desk or a coffee shop or a study pod in the Union - everyone is different. It's necessary to find the spot that works best for you. Some people need dead silence and isolation and some like the slight buzz and bustle around them. Find your place and try to stick to it.

5. Put your phone away

Your phone is a perfect way to waste time. Do you really need to check your Snapchat stories again? You've already scrolled through your whole Instagram feed - there's nothing new. Put that thing away and get to work!

6. Quizlet is your friend

This is a personal favorite of mine. Quizlet is so easily accessible and perfect for sharing with your study buddies. It's a great way to quiz yourself and keep track of your progress. Everyone hates having to remember 50+ terms, so why not make it fun?

7. Rewrite things over and over again

This is a great way to remember things. Writing things out is one way memorize things, rather than just reading it over and over again. Also, it can be used as a test to see how much you can remember without being prompted.

8. Time yourself

Wanna get something done? Set your timer for 25 minutes and see how much uninterrupted work you can get done. Using a timer is a great way to motivate yourself and finish things in time. Most of us are procrastinators - it's just the truth - so timing yourself can act as a challenge and a good way to trick yourself to get stuff done.

9. Challenge yourself with a practice test

Practice tests are a demo run for the real thing. This is a must-do to prepare yourself for what's to come. Even crafting the practice test serves as some studying!

10. Verbally present learned topics to others

Presenting in front of the class sucks, so put yourself through the worst to do the best! If you can't explain a topic to someone else, then you probably don't understand it in the first place. Saying what you've learned out loud can help you form your ideas and it's a good excuse to call your parents or best friends from home during this busy time.

11. Make some study buddies

It's important to have someone in your class that can help you out with topics you don't understand. However, make sure you know when to work with others and when to be on your own. If you're always studying with others, it is easy to get distracted or even fool yourself that you know something you actually may not.

12. Reward yourself

Studying for hours straight is not good for anyone. Reward yourself with some snacks and breaks. I like to work for an hour and then get up and walk around or go grab a coffee. Or, make plans with friends when you start studying so that you have something to look forward to after a nice grind session. Even the smallest breaks can help you feel the best.

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