AP Season

It’s late at night and senior CJ Matthews has just completed the last of his Advanced Placement (AP) Physics homework. Matthews leans back in his chair. Out of the corner of his eye, he notices the clock tick over into the next day. His feeling of relief quickly evaporates as he realizes that the AP exams are nearly upon him.

In recent years, the school has added several AP classes to its curriculum. Students have more flexibility than ever before to take classes that interest them and will provide extra challenges. Furthermore, AP classes prepare students for tests that may make students exempt from certain general education classes in college. However, the school has long been a proponent of flexibility within the classroom and not teaching to a specific test. As AP teachers seek to balance test preparation with what they think is best for their students, AP students find themselves with the responsibility to prepare for AP tests and seek help outside of class time — help that teachers at the school are more than willing to give.

“I have always looked for ways to challenge myself in school,” said Matthews. “Not to say that Catholic wasn’t hard before, but I definitely notice the rigor of AP classes. On top of that, we have the AP tests to worry about all year.”

While there is no doubt about the rigor of the AP classes that the school offers, there is a plethora of official and unofficial resources available for free at students’ fingertips. When a student enrolls in an AP class, he automatically gains access to AP Classroom, a website that provides section videos for each class, practice questions, and homework assignments. 

“I remember going through practice question after practice question and finding that they were nothing like I expected,” said senior Edward Schock. “I would have been completely new to the test if I thought the AP test would be like anything else I had taken.” 

Furthermore, College Board, the company that created AP classes, often releases official practice tests and previous test questions that students can use to simulate what they will see on test day. 

Senior Isaac Holman, who successfully obtained credit on the AP U.S. History exam, one of the most difficult tests, said that he owes much of his success to College Board’s resources. “Before about halfway through the year, I had no idea about AP Classroom or the number of practice questions that were available online. It was really helpful not to be surprised on test day and seeing the types of questions before helped me to work calmly and quickly.”

In addition to AP Classroom’s official resources, Matthews has found numerous educational review videos online in his preparation for the AP Calculus and AP Physics exams. He said, “I think that it is really important to listen to subjects taught in different ways to fully understand the material. These classes are hard, and any student who wishes to succeed must be willing to work hard and seek help from online resources, friends, and especially teachers. They know the material the best and, if you ask, won’t leave you on your own.”

 

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