As the school year winds down, high school students are busier than ever. Many students find themselves focusing on a last minute push to improve their grades. On top of that, students in Advanced Placement (AP) classes have to prepare for AP exams.

Pressure to succeed in the classroom an intense focus for  college applicants. Many students believe that a higher grade or test score will give them an edge over other students, creating intense stress during the end of the school year. Consequently, some students put too much emphasis on the results of AP exams.

While it is always important for students to work hard and try their best, it is not the end of the world if they score poorly on an AP test. In the scope of college admissions, AP tests do not play that large of a role. In fact, students are not obligated to send their scores to colleges if they do not wish to do so. If a student scores poorly, prospective colleges will not know unless the student opts to send his or her score.

Students are not the only people that stress over AP testing at Paly. AP testing also puts stress on teachers as they worry about their students’ performance and how their results will reflect on their teaching and curriculum.

Rather than worrying about AP exams, students should be using this time of the year to improve their grades and prepare for standardized testing if they have not already taken the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the American College Test (ACT). Grades and standardized testing have a greater factor in college admissions, so they should be taken more seriously by students. Furthermore, AP testing itself does not always reflect a student’s absorption of knowledge over a year long course. Unlike standardized tests such as the SAT or the ACT, AP tests are offered only once a year. A student could put a lot of effort into an AP test and receive a poor score, but that does not mean that he or she is a poor student.

There are also students that naturally do not perform well on tests. Students that are poor test takers are put at a disadvantage when it comes to AP testing. On many AP tests, the essay section makes up a large portion of the entire score, and the essays are usually about a specific topic. It is plausible that a student could have extensive knowledge about a particular subject but score poorly on the essay because of a lack of knowledge on something specific.

The beneficial aspect of AP testing is that a student can gain college credit if he or she does well on the exam. At many schools, a score of four or five on an AP test will give a student credit for that course, allowing that student the opportunity to take other classes that might interest him or her. However, receiving a lower score will not create long term issues for students. The worst thing that might happen is that the student will have to take a similar course in college. In the future, it is important that the administration and staff at Paly continue to support students throughout the end of the year as student stress reaches its peak. Activities such as Field Day are great because they give students an opportunity to relax and take their minds off of AP and final exams.

This far into the year, the most that anyone can ask for is for students to try their best. Even if they do not receive the score that they wished for on an AP or final exam, they should be praised for their hard work.

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