Students lock in for AP & IB exams

Junior Anya Schulz takes notes to prepare for her upcoming IB French oral exam.
Junior Anya Schulz takes notes to prepare for her upcoming IB French oral exam.
Shelby Roth

As the days in April pass faster than anyone can keep up with, teachers are beginning to bring up some of students’ least favorite phrases more frequently: “only 2 weeks until the actual test!” and “how much you pay attention now will determine how well you do on your exam!”

Many upperclassmen and even some underclassmen are taking AP and IB exams this spring. Exam season, which begins officially with IB Physics on April 25th, will continue throughout the entire month of May.

For some, this isn’t their first exam season, and so they’re more accustomed to the onslaught of stress. However, there is also a plurality of students who haven’t experienced the rigor of spring standardized testing yet. These students will need to adjust to the added obligation of reviewing past materials on top of their other homework. Sophomore Anthony Grandias will be taking his first AP exams this year. “I’m going to do AP Gov and AP Art History.

Many students rely on AP preparation books to practice the multiple choice and free response questions. (Kenneth Shue)

It’s kind of scary because I hear so many others talking about how hard the tests can be and especially with AP Art History, there’s so many works to memorize,” Grandias said.

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On the other hand, many IB Seniors, who are well-seasoned when it comes to end-of-the-year testing, will be taking their HL exams, which correspond to a two-year course. “I think having to study for IB HL exams and remember content from a year ago will be harder than any of the AP exams I’ve taken where the content is only from one year,” senior Shoshana Peck said.

In spite of the anxiety and the stakes, these exams still have their benefits. “They’re good for college,” Grandias said. “These test scores impress colleges and they give you good practice on the subject. It proves you understand what you’ve been taught.”

However, attempting to wow colleges has caused some students to overload on exams and push themselves to, or even past their limits. For example, due to the similarities between certain AP and IB exam subjects, some students self-study the AP equivalent of the IB test they’ve signed up for. “Last year, I took five exams. I took the AP exams for a bunch of IB classes I was taking and it was a really bad idea because you don’t learn the exact same stuff,” senior Daria Vucea said. “I ended up being really confused on the AP Physics C exam.”

AP and IB course content occasionally overlap, so some students opt to take both exams. (Valerie Wang)

Students are expected to prepare for these tests on their own, outside of school, but teachers are also supposed to offer curriculum reviews prior to the testing dates. “I have been preparing for AP Gov in class some. We go over the slides on the topics that we learn to refresh our memory,”freshman Victoria Zegarra Rodriguez said.

Despite the aid given in class, preparing for AP and IB exams can still be a daunting task. Just looking at all the coursework you have to cover can induce procrastination and stress. “On a scale of 1-10, my stress is nine. I’m so stressed that I literally like block it out,” Vucea said.

Outside of in class preparation and reviewing past tests taken at school, students often utilize online resources to help them study. Sophomore Rachel Wei is taking four APs this year. “I didn’t use a ton of online resources last year, “ Wei said. “Now that I have more to study for though, I’ve been using Khan Academy. I also started using, which is similar to quizlet, to practice.”


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