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AP Tests Hit OHS, But Are APs Really Worth It?

Zoya Shevchenko, Editor-in-Chief

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With the first week of AP tests coming up, what a better time than now to talk about all the flaws of this system we’re all suckered into! Nowadays, everyone feels the pressure to “challenge” themselves with, let’s be honest, classes they’re only taking to get into college. By no means am I above this big trap, as I myself am taking three AP tests next week, but just to let some of my aggravation out, here are five overlooked faults of the AP.

 

  1. APs discourage students from taking classes that truly interest them. The pressure for students to impress colleges often discourages them from taking “less challenging but interesting” classes. Students will regularly set aside their choir or art class because it doesn’t fit in their schedule, or will veer away from cooking or leadership classes because they appear “easy” on a transcript. Kids are simply discouraged by any class without “AP” in front of it.
  2. Students are learning “the way of the test,” not the way of the subject. Now, don’t get me wrong, after taking an AP Bio class you will, obviously, have learned plenty about biology. Nonetheless, AP classes prioritize preparing students to “pass,” meaning teaching the tricks and format of the test. For example, students run into the problem of “knowing the material, but not phrasing their answers how the AP wants.” My AP Gov teacher spends countless hours drilling the “AP format” into our brains, meaning how to phrase our knowledge into words the AP will accept. The point of the class becomes “getting a 5,” not necessarily benefitting from the subject.
  3. AP credits aren’t always directly transferred by schools. A major reason students feel pressured into taking APs is because they could “potentially be saving money in college.” Though this is true in some cases, many universities only allow students to “opt-out” or “replace” their introductory courses with more challenging ones, not simply “waive” them. Though some still find this beneficial, others argue that introductory courses exist for a reason, that students are often better off taking the “real” college version of a class.
  4. Different schools and teachers prepare students differently for the test. As “standardized” as the College Board tries to make these classes, slightly different teaching approaches can alter students’ preparedness tremendously. To spend a year with a first-timer AP teacher is a far different experience than with one who has mastered teaching the class. Students can spend months doing busywork and stressing out all to end up with a 2 on the exam. Though this is often a result of not studying, teachers still greatly shape how well their students perform.
  5. Too much stress, too little creativity. Preparing for AP tests is like studying for any other standardized testit programs your brain to think like a machine and plainly process information. Students sacrifice ingenuity for a systematic way of thinking, losing many skills needed in the real world. The mindset that “stressing out now will play-out well in the future” is good only in moderation, and if taken too far, will create a generation of miserable people.

So, that’s about all I have to say about that. All this ranting has really helped me clear my brain, I’ll probably get back to my AP Lit flashcards now.

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AP Tests Hit OHS, But Are APs Really Worth It?