The two AP testing weeks are probably some of the most dreaded times by both students and teachers. Many of the tests are notoriously difficult, and some even unrealistic to get a traditionally “passing” score. It seems odd then that, in the midst of all of the animosity between students and Collegeboard, one can observe a sort of micro-culture emerging from the exams.
As soon as an exam is taken nationwide, one can find hundreds of “memes” all over social media relating to specific questions or even just about the difficulty level of the test.
This flash forming network of relatability almost always seems to reflect an unease about the exam, often in the form of not understanding a question. This year, the internet blew up with relatability about a collective ignorance toward the word “artifice” and about calculating the internal temperature of a potato.
Suddenly, a collective confusion begets a culture that reaches from coast to coast. It follows the same principles of a community formed by adversity and, just as with the adversity, the confusion is imprinted in memories that can always reawaken that newly lingering culture.
In this sense, AP exams are more than just tickets for college credit or a five point based scale for validation, but symbols and creators of unity. AP exams take complete strangers and bring them together, even if only momentarily and digitally, and even if only for the memes.
The PSAT and SAT follow this same trend, as do state assessments. It seems that the tests that are meant to show us how we’re different actually, implicitly, end up showing us how we’re the same.
It’s an intriguing phenomenon, and it might serve as a commentary on the human desire to fit in, and our intrinsic affinity toward one another. Maybe we’re so desperate to be connected that having multiple accounts on multiple social media platforms isn’t enough to satisfy our need to share everything about ourselves with everyone, so we resort to questions on exams for interaction, as if any test in a classroom setting held any social weight before this.
Or, maybe the memes are just memes—in the millennial sense of the word, of course.
Regardless of the cause for interaction, AP exams are a social phenomenon, one that explores both the vast interconnectivity of people over the world, and the desire for those people to be interconnected. AP exams experience globalization at full force.
Maybe Collegeboard is Skynet.