For many students at Paly, the Advanced Placement (AP) exams constitute the culmination of all the knowledge that they have acquired throughout the school year. These exams provide students with the opportunity to display their understanding of certain subjects at the collegiate level. In this way, the weeks before, during and after AP testing mark a stressful time for students. Therefore, The Campanile believes that the process of these exams must be reformed to further facilitate the process of AP testing.
Paly has always strived to offer personalized learning catered to each student’s individual learning style, something teachers seem to forget in their last desperate dash to prepare students for AP tests. Classes in the weeks before the exams are blocked off for copious practice problems and students are forced to bubble in answer after answer on practice tests for weeks on end, regardless of their level of preparedness.
While practice tests are certainly beneficial to improving students’ performance on the exams, they should not be mandatory during class time. Many AP classes require students to complete excessive amounts of practice that is unnecessary for them. Instead, students should be allowed to choose and prioritize which AP classes they need to study the most for, because their readiness for one AP test may not equate for their readiness in another. Thus, students should not be required to partake in extortionate amounts of in-class practice and should have the option of choosing their preferred use of time in AP classes, especially in the crucial weeks prior to their exams.
Additionally, finals for AP classes are often held during an unofficial finals week, which generally occurs a week before the AP exams begin. Since this week is not one that is officially designated for finals, there is no review week where homework is banned. Thus, there is also no designated limit on the amount of schoolwork that can be given in other classes.
Consequently, teachers do not refrain from assigning excessive workloads and homework assignments, which in turn creates even more chaos and stress for those participating in AP tests. The Campanile believes that — at least for juniors and seniors — the week preceding AP testing should be considered an official finals week, with a specified review period, in order to alleviate student stress during this already-stressful time.
Students should be allowed to choose and prioritize which AP classes they need to study the most for.
But once the two caffeine-fueled AP testing weeks come to an end, students and teachers are left with three vacant weeks before summer break. Some teachers, in a desperate effort to keep class periods productive, continue to teach new material, assign labs and facilitate finals and tests even after the AP exams. However, the purpose of taking an AP course is to prepare the students for the exam in May; by continuing instruction, teachers often inadvertently place an unnecessary burden on students.
Many AP classes require students to complete excessive amounts of practice that is unnecessary for many students.
Admittedly, many AP class teachers do introduce projects after the tests as a means of cementing the AP test information in a more diverse manner, which is definitely a beneficial way of showing students versatile applications of the learned material throughout the year. Another alternative would be to make AP periods after the exam flex periods. With the three weeks preceding summer break, students could pursue independent research projects on topics they are passionate about or catch up in other classes.
All material on the AP tests should be taught before students take the test, because the main objective of an AP class is to prepare students for the exam.
Thus, The Campanile believes that after the tests, students should not be taught new information pertaining to AP material, but should rather be allowed to use these classes as free periods to study for non-AP classes or to work on pertinent projects that represent extensions of the subject at hand.