The truth about AP courses and their exams…according to seniors

From May 1 to May 12, the Father Gerry Chapdelaine court was filled not with the sounds of basketballs and squeaking shoes, but of creaking chairs and pencils scribbling furiously on paper.

The first two weeks of May mark the beginning of the nationwide AP Exams. Juniors and seniors anxiously whittled away their pencils for hours as they filled in bubble after bubble in the hopes of achieving a 5.

For underclasspersons, the prospect of an AP exam can weigh heavy on the mind, yet most seniors appear to regard the tests with an air of ambivalence and familiarity. To understand this difference in opinion, Lion Journalism sat down with several seniors to get their experiences on the AP Exams and to give advice for future test takers. All interviews were conducted in private, with seniors’ individual responses kept secret. A list of all participating seniors can be found below.

Q: Do you feel AP Exams have gotten easier from the first time you took them to this year?



No because they are all pretty different, but I have gotten faster at them. So in some way they are easier but the content is not easier

Don’t know. First year of APs.

I feel like they are kind of the same, they’re all stressful in some way because they all are structured relatively differently with different content. But I think after taking more I was more prepared for what it was like to sit for the test so in that way it was slightly easier.

Yeah, I learned how to take them

Yes, they have definitely gotten easier! I remember when I took my first AP class sophomore year, I was so nervous about all my tests, but they’ve gotten much easier since.

I think it depends on what you’ve taken before. Going into AP Gov was definitely easier from AP U.S. History, but going into AP Physics 1 after not taking any AP science coursework was challenging.

I think that the difficulty remained the same since my junior year when I started taking AP Classes. This year taking three different AP classes, AP Spanish, AP Gov, and AP Physics, rather than just one, seemed like all hell was raining down on me once it came the time of year to deploy the troops to take the test.

Yes, I know more about how to take them

Yes, I feel my junior year exams were more difficult than senior year. But, my AP classes last year were just more difficult in general.

Q: After the exams, do you think that the classes you took were worth it? Do you wish you had taken different classes?

I think some of them were worth it but like AP Calc was NOT at all worth it

I feel like some classes were worth it, but for others I feel like the classes were so centered around the AP test that I did not learn anything but how to take the test.

I do think that AP Environmental Science and AP

I think they definitely were worth it, maybe not APUSH haha but AP Comp and AP Spanish, because they taught me how to adapt to different information quickly and how to understand and apply different types of material.

Nah some of them were goated.

I think it was worth it to take the classes. Even if you can’t get college credit for them, it’s definitely worthwhile to get the experience.

Worth it and yea I wish I took 2 instead of 1

Overall, taking the AP classes was worth it because it pushed myself to a higher standard of work ethic.

Yes, I liked my classes.

I think that two of my AP classes were worth it in the end. First being AP Spanish because I really want to become a fluent speaker, and secondly AP Gov as before taking that class I didn’t know jack about politics. Personally I did hate AP Physics 1 because I was straight up trash at it (it was my first physics class). I wish I had done AP Chem since I had done chemistry my junior year.

Yes, I think it was helpful to be challenged

Yes, I think my classes were worth it and I’m glad I decided to take the AP classes I chose.

Q: Do you think the exams are worth all the importance colleges and college board put on them?

Not really because they are kinda just random

No, because they really do not do much. I think that they’re good to have credit, but they also are like not really important

For certain classes, no. In AP Spanish we spent too much time focusing on the exam and how to take it. While I understand this is important, at times it overshadowed learning actual Spanish fluency. I feel that when the exam was just treated as a test we would take that could be very beneficial, and that we checked up on now and again, it was treated with due importance. This was how it was treated in AP Environmental Science.

I think so, because they give you exposure to exams and advanced material, which can help prepare for college-style classes. But I think that there are also opportunities to learn and prepare for college in non-AP classes as well, which is important because they are more focused on teaching information than on teaching for a test. Even still I think there is some importance to AP classes.

Nah it’s just for money

I don’t think so because you don’t have to send your scores to colleges if you don’t want to, so there’s no penalty for doing poorly.

I think the exams are bias towards students who are good at test taking

I don’t think the exams are worth all the importance that colleges and college board put on them. If you do well then the credit earned can be put towards future college classes, but it won’t matter since there are many credits needed to be earned prior to graduating from university.

Not at all a lot of colleges don’t take them

No, as someone who generally isn’t all that good at exams such as these I don’t think tests like this are necessary to show the skill and educational skills of a person, as that is their only purpose other than to get College Board a ton of money. But, if you are someone who just so happens to be great at these types of exams then I would argue that taking AP exams are necessary for your success.

Maybe? It’s hard because one test determines whether you get credit or not. I think dual credit makes more sense

No, I don’t think they are worth all the importance. Since there isn’t any place on college applications where they are required, I never found them to be that big of a deal.

Q: Do you think studying for the exams in the days approaching exam day is important?


No because it is kinda just based off of knowledge over the year so it’s really hard to cram stuff fast.

Yes, I do. However, I believe that self-care during this time is just as important.

Yes, because this helps you prepare material that might be on the test, or in case of tests that are mostly application, review strategies or practices that could help you on exam day.

Nah just hit that thang blind

I think it can be, but it’s more important to study throughout the year to prepare at the end. A last minute review can be good, but you also get a lot of practice in class, so it’s not the most important thing.


I think reviewing in short periods is most beneficial. Pulling all nighters and studying 24/7 is not healthy before an exam and not necessary. If that is a method that you prefer to use, then by all means follow that, but reviewing all the units from the beginning of the year is going to be difficult to remember everything.

I think it goes without saying that studying is the best thing you could do for an AP exam, I mean, who’re you letting down when you don’t put in the work? Yourself. If you don’t study prior to an AP Test, or even try to get a decent score, you shouldn’t be hoping for a good score in the end. The only way to be successful is to work hard and grind till you reach a goal.


I think it’s important to study if you are less knowledgeable on the material. Personally, I decided to wing it on my AP exams.

I think it’s more about what you already know not cramming

Q: Do you have any advice for juniors, sophomores, and freshmen on how to approach AP classes and AP exams?

Honestly just wing it

I think you should just wing it and also do things like you know them even if you do not.

Keep everything in perspective. Yes, it would be cool to get college credit from the exam, but that’s just a potential bonus. The real value of these classes is getting a taste of what a college course could entail. Focus first on doing well in the class. Always turn in work before it’s due; it doesn’t matter if it’s perfect, you’ll get an A even if you never get 100% on an assignment. Overall, the best way to do well on the exam is just to actually learn the material throughout the year. Learn from the homework. Take notes when asked, don’t worry about them being perfect. You can still study in the weeks leading up to the exam, but this way you’ll have a much stronger foundation.

Don’t cram too much, try to give yourself experience throughout the year with the material so you are more familiar with it. Also, try to keep up on reading as best as you can, and limit your notes to the key things that you can apply and use to job your memory, because extensive notes take way too long. It doesn’t always mean that you’ll remember everything.

Take APES with Nuno

The best thing you can do to set yourself up for success is to stay on top of your worth. Most of the time, when people complain that AP classes are difficult, it’s because they don’t put effort into the reading/classwork, but still expect to do well on tests. If you do what’s expected, they shouldn’t be too difficult.

Study weeks before and space it out, ask many questions

If you decide to take AP classes, don’t be scared to reach out to teachers for help. They truly want to help and assist you with the coursework and general topics you don’t understand. When you take the AP exams, remember to take care of yourself. It’s an advice you hear every time during finals, but this advice is helpful to stay focused and energized.

Make sure to take good notes

I would argue that knowing what you are good at and could be good at are crucial factors in deciding whether or not to do an AP class. For myself, I didn’t take into consideration how much I hate politics, so when I did APUSH and AP GOV I struggled to hang onto an A in the class, nor do I think I did well on either test. The same goes for Physics. Because I never did a normal physics class before AP Physics 1, I practically screwed myself over with a hard work load that overwhelmed me, and upon that came the stress of not making sense of anything I was being told in class. Although AP Spanish was great because I really want to become fluent in Spanish, so while that class was hard I loved it. But even if you feel overly stressed, the best thing you can do is take a few minutes to decompress and build yourself back up. When I did APUSH I struggled immensely throughout the year, and a bug chunk of it was due to AP classes being new to me. The biggest advice I have is ask for help and don’t work yourself to death. It’s not worth it.

Study and review throughout the year, and know the layout of the test and rubrics going into it

My advice is to not stress too much on the exams. If you know the material well enough, you will have a good chance of passing the exams and showing what you know. There are lots of materials online to help you prepare for an AP exam. And if you don’t pass an exam, it’s not the end of the world.

Q: Do you think there should be a different method for testing a student’s knowledge of an AP courses content? Ideas?

Idk even

No i feel like this is the easiest most accessible way to test knowledge, but it may not be accurate

Honestly I think different methods should be looked into at the least, but I haven’t a clue what they would be.

I mean it can be hard to test a large group of people in a way other than a final exam, but I think if there were more opportunities for application of material that would be great. Tests are fine but if students can learn in some way how the information matters or is important in their lives, they will probably be more willing to learn about it and better at remembering the information.

Oral exam

I think there could be better ways, but not that would be feasible. Although the idea of AP exams is daunting, it’s a test of what you know, just like any other test in school.

Yes, teach the class a subject because students know more when they teach rather than learn

I think instead of a general end of the year test, it should be cumulative tests that amount to your final AP score. So the AP style tests that you take after each unit should be weighted as an AP exam section.

Yes projects are more interesting and help learn rather than memorize

Not particularly, as is the class is really difficult since it’s suppose to be a representation of how College could be, so I couldn’t come up with any good ideas.

Maybe more like dual credit?

No, I don’t think there should be a different method. I think the method used now is a good way of giving students the opportunity to show what they know.

Any other points or topics you would like to be included in the article?

The ten minute break halfway through the exam should take the form of a walk outside. This is scientifically proven to reduce stress and increase productivity.

Lions journalism would like to take the time to thank all seniors who participated in the survey. The seniors who participated are Thoren Kelleher, Clare Barnhart,  Jordan Salazar, Madelyn Kradjan, Emily Wiebe, Ramsey Slack, Andrew Drake, Christian Alina, Sophie Nicholson, Luke Wilson, Josh Rosales, and Mary Anna Joyce.