No Need to Stress Over AP Tests

Illustration by Evi

Come the first two weeks of May, panic strikes Hockaday Upper School students: AP exams have arrived. “How will I get into college unless I get all 5’s on my AP exams” is a phrase I’ve heard one too many times around campus. I understand why our March final exams scare students—they count for a solid fifth of our grade—but it perplexes me still why AP exams stress out students.

Of course, we all want to do well on our exams: academic pride comes with the territory of being a Hockaday student; there is, however, no reason to worry. First of all, as long as you paid attention throughout the year in your class, you know the material. Another thing to remember is that these exams are graded on a scale: while there are plenty of other brilliant students throughout the United States, there are others who have more apathy than intelligence. You should thank those students one day. They probably just boosted your score from a 3 to a 4 or 5.

Another thing to note is that most colleges do not take AP scores anymore for credit; some do for placement still, but often times that is rare as well. I am lucky in that by going to a state university next year, I will go in as a sophomore or one to two classes away (depending on how my senior AP exams go) from being a sophomore because of AP, SAT II, and ACT scores. This, however, is very rare.

It is a nice perk because now I have more flexibility in my college schedule. But, if I had bombed all of my AP exams, I would just go in as a freshman like everyone else and it would be completely normal.

Several of my classmates, though, will not receive credit next year. Most seniors, such as Caroline, will not be able to use their great scores in college. So, in many ways, you might find yourself asking, what’s the point if they are not as significant as SAT or ACT scores or your grades and cannot even get you college credit?

Well, for starters, Mr. Kramer will be happy to treat you to a special exam made just for you if you do not take it—and by special he means harder. Also, you do not know where you will end up for college so you should go ahead and assume you might be able to use them. Senior Daly will be using her scores at Stanford for placement so she can more easily move into upper level classes.

In other words, you should go ahead and take them. But, do not stress. You will succeed, but since so many stresses already exist in your life, put the AP exams on the backburner. They aren’t worth crying over—though if you get a 4 or 5 it’s always a nice surprise when you didn’t study at all.

Put in just a bit of review, since your teachers have already so well prepared you, and you shall succeed.

– Megan