Returning AP students face new hurdles


Illustration by Sophia Meytin

A student rushes to finish their AP Physics exam. After an over 50% failure rate, the spotlight is on whether or not passing rates will decrease.

“Congratulations! By taking challenging AP courses and exams, you’re preparing yourself to succeed in college and beyond… Your score: 2.”

These are the words that approximately 36.05% of students who took an AP exam in 2021 read the following July, in comparison to the approximately 33.24% who took one in 2019, and 33.67% in 2018. What does this data mean?

In 2019 — a year entirely unaffected by Covid-19 — the percentage of people who failed an AP exam was less than that of this year’s. The most notable factor that would signify this type of difference is the medium in which a course was taken, virtually or physically.

With the sudden return of in-person school comes the personal responsibilities of enhancing time-management skills, staying on task and keeping track of all their classes, which students now have five times a week as opposed to last year’s twice a week.

“With a lot of assignments on paper, I’m not getting the constant reminders on my phone of, ‘hey, you have to do this,’… just when to do each thing and how much time it’s probably gonna take me,” junior Yael Rotman said.

An online format required constant email communication between teachers and their students. With the return to in-person, paperwork is back and constant email reminders are out.

“Last year, they (assignments) were all online and on Canvas, which honestly, I think I prefer because I could just turn it in and know what I’d have (to do),” senior Tom Dubnov said.

Students are now tasked with constantly paying attention and being aware of what is due and when, two skills forgotten by many in the past year and a half.

“I was easily distracted by my phone and other unrelated tasks while in online school,” sophomore Emily Mu said.

For underclassmen, it is their first year of high school. They did not experience the transition freshmen usually do and have been thrown into a world where no one holds their hand. The last in-person year freshmen had was seventh grade and for sophomores eighth grade. Those years are key to forming study habits that will assist in learning the high school routine.

“Last year’s assignments were easier, less time-consuming,” Mu said.

The assignments in the online format were much more guided and could be compared to middle school-style assignments.

It hasn’t been uncommon for students to take more time with work and have more questions. This halt in rigorous academics could affect future AP exam scores.

With these new challenges, it wouldn’t be too surprising if failure percentages remain the same as they were this year, if not increase. Unless students don’t fit into the rhythm quickly, future AP exam scores are looking bleak.