Students’ Experience of AP Exams

Cynthia Wang, Staff Writer

With the 2022 AP exam season coming to a close, many students can finally take a much-needed breather. According to College Board, “The class of 2018 took a total of 4.22 million AP exams, and approximately 1.24 million U.S. public high school graduates (38.9% of the class) took at least one AP exam.” Furthermore, the percentage of people taking AP classes has only been growing since then.


Students take AP classes for an assortment of reasons. For example, freshman Sophie Enkhbold, who is currently taking AP Computer Science Principles, says, “The reason I took [the class] is mainly because I wanted some extra rigor in my schedule, along with the fact that my friend is also taking it so I kind of got peer pressured.” She adds, “I think most people take AP classes to look good for colleges.” With college applications getting ever more competitive, it is no surprise that a growing percentage of the student population are taking multiple AP classes in hopes to appeal to universities. College Transitions says, “At highly selective universities, like Kenyon College, the average admitted applicant took 4.8 AP courses in high school. The average at Harvard is eight AP classes.” In sophomore Daniel Lee’s case, he states, “I chose my AP classes mostly on a whim. AP Human Geography was mainly for the rigor, but I am also taking AP Economics because I heard it was a hard class and wanted to get a feel for the difficulty of [AP classes].” 

Although adding to one’s transcript is a huge motive for many students to take AP classes and tests, it is definitely not the sole reason. AP U.S. History student junior Cooper Laszlo says, “History has always been a subject I have been interested in, so taking APUSH was naturally going to happen. Additionally, I have already taken most of the history classes offered here.” Interest levels are a big deciding factor for many when choosing their AP classes. It is also highly encouraged for students to not take an AP class or exam just for the sake of taking it. 

With the pressure of potentially being able to get college credits, AP tests are some of the most stressful exams one can take in their high school career. Senior Grace Alawi states, “AP exam season really is one of the most distressing times of the year. It was probably on par with the SAT.” Here, Alawi proves just how important scoring well on AP exams means to some students. 

Another possible worry for many students is the altered schedule during the weeks of AP testing. Laszlo says, “I had a ton of big projects and various assignments due the day of my AP exam, so it was very inconvenient for me. I have to make up stuff for a lot of my classes.” Enkhbold can agree with them. She says, “Missing class and having to make up work and tests is troublesome. I think it would be better if the [AP] tests were on a weekend.” Even though most students seem to be hesitant about giving up a weekend just to take a test, they can agree that it is most likely better in the long run. 

On a brighter note, despite students’ high stress levels whilst preparing for their exams, many claim that the exams went as expected or better than they initially thought. Laszlo says, “I did not finish the short answer section, but I already knew it would be a difficult test, and I am pretty confident in my responses for the rest of [the exam].” Lots of students agree with him on the fact that their anxieties during preparation were mostly for naught. Lee adds, “I definitely did not overprepare, but the exams were not nearly as bad as I imagined.” 

Although AP exam season is over, it is always useful to keep some things in mind for the future. Enkhbold says, “Definitely start studying earlier, not just the week of the test. Especially if you are doing a project or portfolio,” which Alawi also encourages doing. She also suggests, “Use Khan Academy and College Board resources. They were a major help to me.” For people planning to take AP classes, Laszlo suggests, “Make sure you have a thorough idea on the basic overview of the rubrics and curriculum of the class. It makes your life a whole lot easier.” Lee adds, “Although it is easy to procrastinate, if you do, you will get very behind because topics often build off of each other. Have a solid foundation in your understanding and try your best not to slack off.” Despite AP classes and tests being extremely stressful, lots of students continue to take them for multiple years. Regardless, many students can say they are grateful for the fact that this year’s AP exams are over and can finally take a well-deserved break.