AP tests stress students, security alike


Photo Credit: Julia Rooney

Students taking AP tests have been preparing in their classes throughout the year. The exams began on May 1.

by Jenny DeStefano, Staff Writer

Advanced Placement students began to take their respective exams starting on May 1, leading some to groan about studying and others to question the courses’ importance.

The College Board, maker of the SAT exam, produces the AP tests. These exams marked the unofficial end of AP courses, capped off by these comprehensive examinations ranging from Calculus to Latin.

Scores are comparable to a grade on a final exam, so students who take AP tests do not need to take finals. Additionally, students who receive 4s or 5s on the exams (on a scale of 0-5) are often able to receive college credit.

But does taking an AP class matter to colleges for acceptance? Guidance counselor Ms. Laura Vargo thinks this is not entirely so.

“AP courses on a transcript are just one of the many variables that goes into the college admissions decision process,” Vargo said. “On a transcript, colleges would like to see students doing as well as they can in a course that is challenging for the student.  They want to see that the student is motivated and eager to learn.”

Nonetheless, for those concerned about their exam performance, there are many options available to prepare and options if the student fails to do so adequately.

For one, students are not required to submit their AP exam scores on college transcripts if they do not wish to do so. Essentially, this means that a poor test performance is not the worst case scenario.

Freshman David Viggiano, who prepared for the AP World History exam, felt confident but was also concerned that his studies wouldn’t be enough.

I am still nervous about how important what I fail to retain will impact me,” Viggiano said. “The worst case scenario of failing wouldn’t be the end of the world, as I can choose not to send my score to colleges and my grade is unaffected.”

By far the worst course of action a student could take is to cheat on these exams, as the consequences would be severe. However, the high school test administrators take many steps to stop any possible academic dishonesty.

“Mrs. Barrett, our AP coordinator, must adhere to very strict guidelines from The College Board, such as no electronic devices, mechanical pencils, water bottles, backpacks, etc.,” history teacher Mrs. Donna Maasarani said. “The exams are closely monitored and secured to ensure the integrity.”

With a number of study and review opportunities, teachers are preparing their students so they’re confident enough to take the test without resorting to cheating.

Students can elect to attend review sessions with some AP teachers outside of school. One such teacher who makes herself available is Maasarani, who offers her AP World History freshmen periods the two options of lunchtime reviews (for approximately twenty minutes) and night reviews, about an hour each. One attendee of these review sessions is Viggiano.

Not only have I independently watched ‘Crash Course’ videos by John Green on YouTube and studied from my homeworks, review book, and class PowerPoints in my free time, but I have also attended study sessions hosted by my teacher, Mrs. Maasarani, at nighttime and during lunch,” he said.

So what’s next for AP? The future will likely see tighter regulations regarding cheating, specifically in regards to the advent of wearable technology. Increased college acceptance of AP scores for credit may also be on the horizon. Nevertheless, taking an AP course is still not a requirement to get into top colleges.

“Students do not need to take multiple AP courses to be accepted to a good college,” Vargo said. “Students who have demonstrated academic growth and an interest in a particular area have been accepted to great colleges even without an AP course appearing on their transcript.”