The trials and tribulations of AP testing

Jen Crystal, Editor

College Board? “Bah humbug.”

Now, I’ll be honest: I’m mainly writing this to complain about how I have two AP tests on the same day (meaning that I will be testing from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.), but, putting that aside, there is a lot wrong with the AP testing system. AP tests are laborious, and they leave many griping and complaining. Here is a list of some common AP test complaints:

  • The length

AP tests are very long, typically lasting four hours. This can be worsened if you have both a morning and an afternoon test. Especially for those with testing anxiety or poor concentration skills, this can be dreadful. However, even without these struggles, the vast majority of people suffer due to the length of these tests. A study published in the journal “Cognition” found that taking brief breaks throughout a task improves one’s concentration and therefore performance.

  • The timing

The AP test schedule is released months in advance, and teachers are very aware of the two weeks of hell that students go through during this time. So, you would think that your workload in classes would ease up around this time. No! Although workload in AP classes generally comes to a steady halt and is instead replaced with AP prep, work in other, non-AP classes continues. In fact, due to South’s early start and end time, you will likely be taking AP tests right before finals, leaving little time to study for finals and a lot of stress. For instance, I had a class in my junior year that had a HUGE project due and a final surrounding the AP testing time frame.

  • The lack of diversity between AP classes

I quickly ran out of AP classes that I was interested in, so I mainly took AP classes for the sake of taking AP classes to boost a college resume. At South, there are many STEM options and limited humanities options. As a humanities driven student, I found this to be very disheartening.

See also: South lacks sufficient AP arts and humanities

  • The fees

AP testing is expensive. You must first pay for the physical test ($10 for English, math and science courses and $100 for world languages and history courses). It is important to note that there are fee waiver options; however, these are need based. Many people also pay for various AP practice books which on average price at $15. Prices for supplies (such as graphing calculators), which are not necessary but are incredibly helpful, also add up. And finally, you then have to pay College Board to send your AP scores to colleges in order to receive college credit. Especially if you are taking multiple AP tests, these costs can add up to hundreds of dollars in fees.   

  • The stress

AP tests are stressful. No matter how much you study, you often feel unprepared as AP tests are different from tests that include bulleted study guides of what you need to know. The best way to prepare for these tests is to practice, looking at old AP tests is one of the best ways to predict what will be on the test. The unknown variables of the test combined with the amount of commitment required on students’ parts in order to perform well, the stressful testing environment, the financial burden and much more prove to be very stressful. Cramming last minute and procrastinating can also be stress inducing components.