The long anticipated Advanced Placement (AP) testing began this week, bringing extra hours of work, stress, and less hours of sleep for all students enrolled in the AP program. The challenging Hewlett High School program requires immense effort in order to do well.
While some students don’t prepare as much, others work ceaselessly in the belief that a high score is essential to a successful future and when applying to college.
Students in the AP program sometimes start their accelerated track sophomore year by taking AP European History. For these students first introduced to the increased level of difficulty (including myself), the entire program is a completely new experience.
Although we have been challenged in school before, AP European History presents an entirely new obstacle. The class, known to teach proper essay writing, is highly demanding of reading and studying. In fact, due to the workload, AP Euro is often regarded by students as the most rigorous class in the high school.
In the final days before the exam, similar to other APs, my peers and I attempt to retain as much information as we can by reading review books, going through notes, watching videos and taking practice tests. The amount of information expected to know is staggering, and results in stress beyond regular exams.
With all of the time put into working for success on the APs it’s difficult not to question the purpose for all of the hard labor. After hours of studying endlessly, is there a goal at the end that will make it worth it? Many people have different motives for taking AP classes including hoping to receive college credits, strengthen their college applications or in the rare occasion, for the sake of learning.
With the extreme that many students take the stress of achieving an “acceptable” score, it can easily result in a poor mental health. Lowering sleep as nights of work grow longer, the preparation for the testing is physically and mentally demanding. On the other hand, would we be better off stressing less and focusing more on being happy and healthy? Students like myself ponder if the possible improvement of the grade will be worth the struggles it causes.
Maybe the studying will push your score from a four to a five, maybe that will help you get into the college of your choice, and maybe that credit will count in college. But the doubts are endless. I watch the limited amount of students that enjoy AP classes for the pure enjoyment of challenge and knowledge, and wonder how they don’t get wrapped up in the bigger picture of the class’ impact; although they’re lucky to still contain a strong passion to learn.
No matter the class, European History, AP Chemistry, or AP English, most students will have to deal with the stress. I can only hope that the hard work will pay off, but even if it doesn’t help later in life, the satisfaction when receiving your score should bring tremendous relief.
One of the biggest enjoyments in life can be achieving a goal after hard work. And maybe that’s a better reason to participate in an AP program. The pure self-pride after knowing you can accomplishment something, is not only gratifying, but also gives you the mental ability to accomplish anything.