Are Students Prepared for AP Exams?

Because online school could have potentially hindered the understanding of AP material, many students feel nervous and unprepared for their AP exams this may.

Courtesy of Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Because online school could have potentially hindered the understanding of AP material, many students feel nervous and unprepared for their AP exams this may.

Danielle Huizar, Photojournalist

Students around the United States and other parts of the world will be taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams next month. For students, AP exams offer the chance of college credit and the ability to take high-level college classes to prepare for college. However, this school year has been abnormal because of the COVID-19 pandemic and online learning, creating the question: are students prepared for the AP exams this year?

There are multiple negative problems associated with online learning. Online learning and being stuck on a screen all day could lead to isolation and an increased chance of mental illness making it exceedingly difficult to complete assignments and learn the material. In addition, online learning requires students to have a high level of motivation and responsibility which could pose a difficult problem to those who could be suffering from their mental health, anxiety, or other problems due to the pandemic. Also, it is difficult for teachers to prevent cheating in an online setting making it easier for students to cheat and not fully grasp the material being taught to them ( Thus, with the lack of motivation and the desperation to achieve high grades, many students turn to cheating in their AP classes, and since the AP exam is a test that covers knowledge from the entire year, cheating on their classes diminishes the ability to actually practice for the AP exam in their classes. 

Also, the time learning the material has decreased. During a normal school year at Yorba Linda High School, on Thursdays through Fridays, students spend 55 minutes in their classes, and on late Mondays, they spend 48 minutes in their classes. In comparison, during our online schedule this year, on late start Wednesdays, students spend 30 minutes in their classes, and on the rest of the days of the week, they spend 50 minutes in classes ( AP courses cover a consistent amount of material every year, and with the decreased time we get in class, teachers may find it difficult to cover all the material thoroughly before the AP exam. Conversely, since online learning gives students more free time, those students who thrive working independently to learn material for the class benefit from this lightened schedule.

Additionally, at Yorba Linda High School, all sports seasons have started up again, and many sports have their seasons in April and May. Although this is fantastic news for students, practice and competitions usually take up a lot of time, and for student-athletes taking AP exams, this could add additional stress to them as they prepare for their exams.

Thus, because of the negatives of online learning, students could potentially feel unprepared for the upcoming AP exams. Sarina Patel (9) is “nervous about [her] AP Human Geography exam” since it is her first AP exam ever, and she is “hoping to prepare more” in the coming weeks for the exam in May. Likewise, Chris Yach (11) has felt “unmotivated throughout this year,” so he feels “somewhat unprepared and nervous” for his AP exams next month. On the other hand, Sydney Fried (11) “feels prepared” because her “teacher Ms. Ferris has boosted [her] confidence through quizzes and essays.” Personally, as a student taking four AP classes this year while being an athlete in season currently, I feel somewhat overwhelmed and nervous that I will not have the time to adequately prepare for each of my exams, but I am optimistic for the exams, as all of my teachers are providing a plethora of review resources in preparation for the exams. Although this year has been unusual, I believe that our AP students at Yorba Linda High School will do great on their exams in May.