The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Day 55


It’s T-1 Day until test day. Today is May 11.

I think the word that best describes me today is “stress.” I am a giant ball of tension and anxiety and worry. I know I shouldn’t care so much about one test ― specifically the Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB exam I have tomorrow ― but I can’t seem to help it. Maybe if I felt more prepared I wouldn’t be such a jittery mess, but I’ve been out of school for nearly eight weeks at this point and can’t get my head back into the game. For the last two days, all I seem to have done is watch review videos, read my notes and ricochet between intense panic and lethargic apathy. 

To help combat my nerves, I took a shower first thing this morning. I hoped that a relaxing start to my day would help me calm down and focus on rationalizing my thinking so I didn’t go into a downward spiral. I used plenty of hot water and stepped out feeling clean and refreshed. I didn’t pay enough attention to the clock, however, because by the time I’d finished drying off, my AP Calc teacher’s virtual office hours had already started. I had a hard time finding the correct link to the day’s Google Hangout chat room, but I eventually made it.

This is a picture I took of my computer screen during AP Calc AB virtual office hours today. Photo by Bailey Stover.

When I arrived, I was the second person there. I didn’t have too many specific questions, so I was content to listen to the other student’s concerns and watch as our teacher worked through several example problems. If I’m being honest, I really attended the meeting to feel less alone the day before the exam. I’ve taken online classes during the summer for credit advancement before, but suddenly switching to online learning half way through the second semester of my senior year was a truly unpleasant change. All of my usual support systems vanished without warning, and my motivation to study disappeared as soon as I learned Columbia Public Schools was switching to a Pass/No Credit grading system. I take full responsibility for the part I’ve played in not preparing myself for my AP exams, but I do think if I’d been in an in-seat educational environment for the past 55 days I would be in far better shape than I am now.

After my teacher concluded his virtual office hours, I spent the next several hours watching the various video lessons he had created during the last few weeks. In particular I focused on problems dealing with accumulation, related rates, tables, differential equations and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. As I watched the videos I could understand why and how he was doing what he did. Nevertheless, when I attempted to complete the work on my own, I struggled immensely.

This time I added chocolate chips and chopped pecan to my banana bread. Photo by Bailey Stover.

I’m not sure what this says about me, but one of the reasons I have a contentious relationship with math is because it makes me feel dumb and insecure. Give me a book to read, an essay to write or a person to talk to, and I’ll be right in my element. Hand me a calculator and tell me to find derivatives, limits, integrals and antiderivatives, and I become the proverbial fish out of water. Since elementary school I’ve had to work without rest to make sense of basic mathematical concepts and principles. I don’t think I fully grasped how long division worked until my sophomore year. Unlike English where writing an essay seems like second nature (even though I’ve spent more than my fair share of time dissecting and editing drafts of my own writing), I become insecure and frightened when I can’t quickly figure out a math problem. All year, save the last eight weeks, I’ve put in hours of work making sure I could hold my own on AP Calc tests and in-class discussions. I guess all my effort is for naught if I can’t transfer it to tomorrow’s exam.

To give my brain a break from reviewing, I decided to bake some banana bread in the mid-afternoon. I wanted to tune out the world, so I turned on my Bluetooth speaker and blasted music as I danced around in the kitchen with flour in the air. One of the perks of being home alone for a few hours while my parents and brother are running errands and exercising is I can be the queen of the house. I’m becoming pretty proficient with banana bread, and a little tired of the taste, so I think the next time I have the urge to cook I’ll try a different sweet treat. I’m considering asking my mom what my grandpa’s favorite dish is (I think it’s German chocolate cake) and making that to bring up to him, from a safe distance, of course. 

After dinner I studied for a little longer. I also practiced logging into the AP exam site to make sure I could upload photos from my phone to my computer for submission. Everything went smoothly the two times I practiced, so I have my fingers crossed I won’t encounter any errors tomorrow. If I do, my mom said she’ll be on stand-by to help me out with technology so I can focus on the test itself. 

Even with the time I’ve put in these last few days, I’m planning on waking up early tomorrow so I can have more time to study, organize myself, check my computer and find a way to relax before the exam starts. My teacher said he’ll be available for virtual office hours from 10:30-11:30 a.m., so I’m planning on checking in for moral support and to see if he can answer any last-minute questions I may have. I suppose all I can do at this point is get a good night’s rest and maybe do a little praying to see if higher powers can teach me calculus while I sleep. 

“Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.” ― Albert Einstein

How did you spend your 55th day of social distancing? Let us know in the comments below.

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