The pressure of the number five

As May draws inevitably closer, so do the Advanced Placement exams. At Antioch Community High School, some students have similar opinions about the upcoming test season.

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Beth Kamman

The Advanced Placement exams commence on Monday, May 16.

Beware and be ready, Antioch Community High School students: the first two weeks of May are dedicated to the Advanced Placement exams. After traditional AP testing experienced abrupt changes due to the pandemic, it has returned to its original state, waiting for test-takers to complete it this year.

AP exams are scored on a scale from 1 to 5. When an individual receives their score, it gives evidence of how qualified that student is for college credit. However, it is the college’s decision on whether they will grant credit or higher placement depending on the score.

Sophomore Hailey Caya is new to the immense amount of anxiety that takes over ACHS AP students. Some experience the highest stress levels they have undergone all year, and others fly through exams like a breeze. 

Caya will take the AP Psychology exam. Her teacher has given power points and time to get help, but the feeling of uneasiness still plays a factor in her mind, though it does not deter her.

“I’m feeling nervous because it is my first exam, but I feel like I have nothing to lose by taking it,” Caya said. 

Junior Thomas Weber experienced three AP exams last year: macroeconomics, microeconomics and computer science. Similarly, he will take three AP exams this year, but his confidence level differs significantly. 

“I feel like I’ve learned way more this year because of the in-person learning, which is the reason why I think I’ll do better,” Weber said. 

One of the exams Weber will take this May is the AP U.S. History exam. The test consists of multiple sections: 55 multiple choice questions, three short answer questions, one document-based question and one long essay question. Overall, the completion time is four hours.

Though Weber remains optimistic about his test-taking skills, the AP U.S. History exam is one that may be difficult to overcome. 

“There’s such a variety of [material],” Weber said. “It ranges from three different things of writing and a set of multiple-choice; I struggle with writing, so that is my main focus for studying.”

While considering the AP exams he has taken at ACHS, senior Nate Knoll agrees with Weber: the AP U.S. History exam is the toughest test. However, as it is his senior year, stress levels have lowered, even though he plans to take four AP exams. Similarly, study sessions ease his mind and set forth a game plan.

“There’s been a lot of prep work and review,” Knoll said. “We’re constantly keeping content fresh in our minds. All of our tests kind of build [on previous knowledge].”

Although each student has resources available to them for studying, some experience this time differently to receive the highest score possible.

The number one is a score most students try to steer away from, but nervousness and low self-confidence can conflict with their knowledge. All students can do is put in the effort and try their best on the AP exam, hoping to receive the desirable score of the number five.