AP test stress

Story by: Ashley Offenbach, staff writer
Photos by: Jennifer McGowen, staff photographer

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The AP Tests are coming up in the beginning of May, and they are causing many students to stress out. All of the AP tests are based on a one-to-five scale, but the percentages which equate to a 3, which is the passing score, are different for each test.

Depending on the subject a student is taking and the student themselves, their stress will be different. Some departments have much lower test scores and passing rates, which could cause less stress than another department because even though students will mostly likely study, they may be less stressed if they do not pass.

On the other hand, the departments with lower pass rates could cause more stress because students know it is harder to get a three or higher on the test. This means students know they have to study more and for longer periods of time to get a better passing grade. Students may freak out much easier because they know they have a slim chance of passing the test.

Although the difficulty level off tests may be different, most students can agree that it causes some amount of stress and anxiety preparing for these tedious tests.

Tess Barnett, 11, said, ¨The AP Spanish test is the test I am most stressed about because the thought of having a conversation with a recording is rather daunting.¨

Tess is not the only one stressed about the AP Spanish test. Many AP Spanish students are stressed about this test.

Maddie Bovard, 11, agreed with Tess, saying, ¨The AP Spanish is what I am most stressed about because I don’t feel very comfortable with the language.¨

Some students also do independent study classes and feel like they are ready to take an AP Test for that class, even if MVHS does not offer the class.

Leah Chaves, 12, who is taking independent study Japanese, said, ¨The AP Japanese test is probably the hardest because it requires me to record myself having a conversation and I have not been able to practice speaking in the past half year. I am fine with reading and listen, but you kind of lose the language if you don´t use it.¨

AP Test stressThe AP Tests may cause less stress because since so many people do not pass, students will use ¨Many people did not pass, so it is fine that I did not pass…¨ as an excuse to fall back on.

In other departments, such as AP Spanish, there has been an extremely high pass rate, as Señora Laughlin explains, ¨I think that the passing rate has been 70 percent or better for the past three years, possibly four. ¨

This may can cause students more stress because they know they need to pass to keep the pass rate at a high level.

Taking the AP test may be extremely stressful for the students in advanced placement classes at Mt. Vernon High School, but once all tests are finished, it will be a relief.

Students who were stressed about an upcoming AP Test, were able to attend the AP Cram Session on April 29. Student paid $10 to get in and they received pizza and a t-shirt. They joined their AP class, and the teachers spent time reviewing for the test with their students. The classes that had cram night sessions are: AP Biology, AP European History, AP United States History, AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP Psychology, and AP Spanish.

The truth about AP

Story by: Sydney Shurman, Reviews Editor
Photo by: Jennifer McGowan, staff photographer

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Many students at Mt. Vernon wanting to graduate with an Academic Honors diploma are all too familiar with AP classes. Some classes may be more challenging than others, but all are expected to be more demanding than normal high school classes, or even honors courses.

Since AP classes are considered college-level courses, students who pass the class and the AP exam can receive college credit. In theory, the concept sounds fantastic. Students receive credit before they even get to college, which means they do not have to spend as much money on that class and they have one less class to take in college. This equals more money and more free time. So why not pile on as many AP classes as possible?

The answer: that wonderful concept is not exactly the truth. Each college has its own policy on how many and what kind of credits it gives students, but for the most part, AP classes are not a one-way ticket to a perfect college experience.

Passing the AP exam does not mean that a student gets the exact number of credits required in the class that would be the college equivalent of their AP class. This does not mean that students do not get credit for their work, because they certainly do. However, it is not always in the form expected.

While each college decides what kind of credits a student receives based on their AP test scores, the College Board has a break down on their website. At IU Bloomington for example, getting a passing score of a 3 typically gives only an undecided credit in the area of the class. For some classes though, like Biology and English, it does earn three credit hours in a 100 level class. Most classes require at least a 4 to get a 100 level class or higher. Physics is the most rigorous, requiring a perfect 5 on the AP test to get anything more than an elective credit.

IUPUI is more lenient on giving specific class credits, with a score of 3 earning at the very least enough credits for one full elective course. Ball State is by far the best, offering at least a 100 level class for a 3 on the AP test.

That being said, it is definitely not impossible to earn satisfying college credits by taking AP classes. Certain colleges are always going to have different standards, and that might be a factor for some when choosing a university. However, all state universities do accept AP credits in some form, and they often provide enough credits for at least a full elective course.

By no means am I trying to discourage anyone from taking AP classes. I have taken three myself, and I can wholeheartedly say that they have all greatly benefited me in at least one way. They can provide a solid foundation for knowledge that students will need in college, and they can be a helpful snapshot of the rigor of college courses.

In some cases, AP classes can even do more than that. AP Literature helped shape me as a better writer and opened my eyes to truly amazing pieces of literature. Also, AP Government has made me so much more knowledgeable about politics, on top of the fact that it gives me the chance to express and listen to different opinions.

“AP Language is a lot of work, and it drives me insane, but I feel so much more prepared for college now,” said Ciera McCann, 12.

I think it is an excellent idea to take AP classes, even if they are not required to graduate. They have numerous positive qualities, but they are not easy. There is more work, and they are not a guaranteed “get-out-of-jail-free-card.” I highly encourage all students to take AP classes, but I believe in taking them for the proper reasons, and telling people the truth about what they are getting into.