By Students, for Students #1: A Rundown of AP Exams


Through May 6-17, high school students will be taking AP exams.

Molly Honnef, Staff Writer

Through May 6-17, Advanced Placement (AP) tests will be administered to high school students in over 100 countries worldwide.

The exams are graded on a curve in order to evenly distribute scores (with three and above being passing and two and below failing). The curve prevents all students from getting the same or very similar scores, and may work out to the advantage of some.

However, there are some drawbacks accompanied with a curve. Since a student’s score is dependent on how other students score, the tests are especially competitive so it is important to prepare well, which can be a stressful experience for students. The pressure to study and score the highest is evident when testing begins in May.

This May, Bella Sagles, junior and experienced AP test-taker, will take the AP U.S. history, AP Psychology, and the AP Language and Composition test. For Sagles, the key to acing an AP test is getting a good amount of sleep the night before. She plans to prepare by studying with her classmates, doing practice tests, and staying on top of her AP classes throughout the school year.

Sagles describes her experience with the tests as complicated and stressful. “Freshman year I wasn’t sure how to prepare for the AP Test,” said Sagles. Now, she feels like she has better teachers and is much more prepared for the tests compared to her freshman year.

My own experience with AP testing has taught me to use review books, such as Barron’s or The Princeton Review. These books condense the seemingly endless amount of information into a more concise and understandable format, which makes the entire process of studying much more efficient.

Depending on the subject, the brand of the AP book can be more helpful than the other. For instance, Barron’s is generally better for sciences and math while The Princeton Review is great for social sciences and humanities.

I have also found that it is important to prepare for the the tests over a long period of time. Students who review the key points only days before the test retain little information, which then leads to low scores. However, spreading out review over the course of a few months or weeks can help decrease stress and increase success.

In exchange for the extra work that AP testing demands, the results can save time, money, and help students discover new passions for a desired course of study.

“Deciding to take an AP course lets colleges and universities know that you have what it takes to succeed in an undergraduate environment,” according to College Board.

AP exams allow students to earn college credits in high school and aid in admissions when applying to universities. Although, taking the course and the test is not a guaranteed way to gain admission. Many competitive universities only accept perfect scores on certain exams, so it is important to participate in other extracurricular activities and not stress too much.

The day of the test, be sure to arrive at the testing site early and be prepared. Apply all of your accumulated knowledge and be confident in your answers. Good luck!