Students prepare for AP


Alice Yu

For a price of $91 per test, Advanced Placement students are provided an opportunity to earn college credit, saving money on secondary education courses that can cost more than $200 per credit hour.
Students can earn anywhere from three to 10 college credits for each course, and with 19 AP courses offered at RBHS, there are abundant opportunities to obtain the much-desired college credit.
With such an appealing deal, students who opt to take the AP test at the end of the year are working toward earning a four or a five, the score usually accepted by colleges. Unfortunately, first-time AP testers lack the advantage of experiencing an AP test, sometimes filling up their studies with uncertainty for success.
For sophomore Molly Gunter, an AP World History student, her confidence stems from an extensive review over content. With mini-journals and essays to go with every chapter in their textbook, AP World students were given multiple study tools to enforce their learning.
“We do a ton of notes in class,” Gunter said. “We do a lot of discussions to make sure we really know the information, so I definitely feel prepared for it.”
With a majority of AP world students being first-time AP testers, AP World teachers provide students with an abundance of practice. Along with notes and discussions, AP World students also participate in Game Days, a simulation of the real AP test.
“We do a couple of Game Days, which is a full-on AP test and so you just kind of psychologically prepare for what it’s like to take three hours and 30 minutes of a grueling test,” AP World History teacher Greg Irwin said. “We have quotes from students from the past to say, ‘What was the experience like?’ So, it’s doable. It’s valuable. It’s worth it. We could try to paint a picture of what the average college exam week looks like and put this in perspective. You’re building up toward that; you’ll do four or five exams in five or six days.”
Encouraged to take AP courses by her older siblings, junior Clara Brand is well aware of the benefits. According to her siblings, AP courses and tests play a role in making the transition from high school to college a bit easier.
“First of all, my older siblings have always really encouraged me to take them,” Brand said. “They really enjoyed their AP classes, and they were like, ‘It’s a really good experience for you to gain. It’ll prepare you better for college.’”
Brand started taking AP credits as a sophomore with AP World History. While the essays for AP World History and AP Language and Composition involve different components, her experience last year makes her feel more prepared for upcoming exams.
“I feel like experiencing the test before is definitely going to help; just knowing what it’s like going in and taking away some of the nervousness,” Brand said. “Some things play into each other, like the analysis and the [document based question] essays, so there’s some similar set-ups between the two essay forms and what you needed to do last year opposed to what you need to do this year, so I feel like it does help to have that background experience.”
Currently enrolled in AP Calculus AB, AP Art I, AP U.S. History and AP Language and Composition, Brand has her fair share of AP credits, though she only plans on taking the test for AP Calculus AB and AP Language and Composition this year. There is no test for AP Art I students. Instead, students complete their portfolio over a period of two years and then apply for testing at the end of AP Art II.
“I’m not taking the [AP] U.S. [test] mainly because at semester, I had been reading Tindall, [the textbook for AP U.S. History,] up to that semester point and it was just taking so much time and I dreaded reading it, so I was like, ‘You know what? I’m not taking the U.S. [test]. I don’t mind having to take it in college.’ I just did not want to read Tindall, and so that was the sole reason why I just didn’t want to take the test,” Brand said. “Also, I wanted to be able to focus more, come that time, on the AP Calc test because that’s what I really want to get credit for so I never have to take math again.”
Similar to AP studies courses, AP Calculus is also a content-heavy course, with AP Calculus AB worth one semester of college-level math credits and AP Calculus BC worth two semesters of college-level math credits.
“There’s a lot of content we have to get in first, but as soon as I’ve taught enough of the content, we start practicing free response and multiple choice questions from the AP test that they’ve released,” AP Calculus BC teacher Burke McCray said. “It’s one thing to know the content. AP asks their questions in certain ways, and so it’s good to know the certain ways they ask them, plus the content.”
After AP testing is completed, students still have to prepare for another round of testing, be it end-of-course exams or semester finals. But for McCray’s AP Calculus BC students, class time is going to go toward content that was glossed over, and the learning pace will be at more of an easygoing speed.
“There’s a couple of things in the books along the way that we’ve skipped and so the students are like, ‘When are we going to learn the sandwich theorem? When are we going to learn the volume by shell method?’ So I show them a couple of things,” McCray said. “We won’t have any homework. It’ll just be done in class; we’ll have fun. If it’s nice out, we’ll go outside and do something. We still learn a little bit, but they’ve done a lot, so I do give them quite a bit of break.”
By Alice Yu