From May 1-12, high school students all over the country made their way through the two weeks of AP testing. These two weeks are among the most important in the school year, as they can give students the opportunity to earn college credit and expand their opportunities after high school. However, many students find themselves in a struggle to study adequately for their APs because the school doesn’t give the tests the priority they deserve. Students need fewer prescheduled events and less work in their non-AP classes during the AP weeks in order to fully focus on their exams.
In previous years, when MCPS still gave semester exams, the tests were administered in their own special exam weeks, with regular classes and other school activities being severely reduced, if not eliminated. This gave students much more time to spend on test preparation. While it would be unreasonable to emulate this for two full weeks in May, the least the school can do is limit these competing obligations to a more manageable level. This year, the spring sports seasons all came to their climaxes during APs. Track and field and gymnastics had their county championships during the two weeks, and several other teams had their senior nights and playoff games during the period as well.
It is commonly known and often celebrated that students are not required to attend classes on the days of their AP exams. However, non-AP classes continue to move forward at their usual pace during the AP weeks. The rest that AP students are supposed to have instead gets taken up by makeup work or just going to their classes after all to avoid falling behind. To solve this, teachers should designate all their assignments during APs as “essential” or “non-essential.” If a student has an AP test on the same day as a non-essential assignment, such as a minor homework for completion or a short worksheet, they can either be excused or receive an extension. Essential assignments, such as quizzes, tests and other major assignments, would still be required by their original deadline. This would give students the flexibility to study for their APs without falling behind in other classes.
Any student who has taken an AP class has heard teachers, parents and others stress the importance of taking the exam in May. It may be a flawed system to have college credit determined by a few short hours after a year of hard work, but that is how it is. Schools need to treat APs as if they really are as important as we say, and give students the ability to prepare to do their very best.