Four AP tests in five days: a journal


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Online AP tests started May 11th and will finish up May 22nd.

Sara Croghan, Perspectives Editor

It is the beginning of May and also my favorite (and least favorite season): AP season. COVID-19 threw the College Board for a loop this year and caused them to switch all of their tests online. What were going to be up to three plus hours long tests with multiple choice and free response  are now all 45 minute free response open note exams. I, in my infinite wisdom, decided to take five of these AP classes. Although because of these changes I will be spending a significantly less amount of time testing, the rearranged schedule has me taking four of these exams in five days, or a week. During this death week I have decided to journal my experience. 

Day 1 (Monday) Test: AP Government and Politics at 3pm CT

Pre-test: I overslept this morning since I could not fall asleep for the life of me (thanks to a Scooter’s RedBull Infusion), and I slept an extra hour this morning to make up for it. I’m pretty nervous for today. Spent the rest of the morning and afternoon doing some last minute studying and getting ready.I feel pretty confident about the subject matter itself but this being my first go around with the new testing platform and the time crunch has me pretty anxious. To top things off, my neighbors elected today to cut down their gigantic oak in their backyard near the room I will be testing in. Noise may be an issue today.

Post-test: There is nothing more anxiety inducing than the 30 minutes before the test watching the timer countdown. You are almost in disbelief by the time it reaches one minute and you think to yourself “this can’t possibly be happening.” The timer hits zero and it is a mad scramble. Overall, I wasn’t very crunched for time. Once the test started I was able to focus in and the stress melted away. By far the worst part of the whole experience was just waiting for it to start. 

Day 2 (Tuesday) Test: AP Latin at 11a.m. CT

Pre-test: Woke up this morning feeling pretty good. I did not have as much anxiety about the testing platform itself after yesterday, but still each test is different. I’ve been a little nostalgic today and last night, as my Latin career (at least a LHS) will be officially over after that 45 minute test. The open note portion I think will really be a game changer on this test.

Post-test: The test went just about as good as I could have expected it. The timing was a little rushed; I pretty much finished it right in time with no time to go back and check, but I felt pretty confident about most of my answers. This time, during the 30 minute countdown, I chose to not just sit there and watch the time pass. I was able to distract myself with some other things, and I think that helped me stay calm during the test.

Day 3 (Wednesday) No test, Study Day

I took most of the afternoon off yesterday to give myself some time to relax and regroup, but today I really need to hit studying hard. I’ve got AP Physics I tomorrow and AP U.S. History friday. The Physics I test is notorious for being difficult and throwing complex topics and questions at you. The APUSH test is relatively simple and just the DBQ (Document Based Question) portion of the regular test. However, I’m most nervous about timing for that test. In my practice DBQs I am writing right up until the timer, trying to squeeze in all the criteria to get full points. Hopefully doing another practice DBQ today will help me speed up. 

Day 4 (Thursday) Test: AP Physics I at 3p.m. CT

Pre-test: This is the test I have probably done the least amount of studying for with the exception of the last 24 hours. It seems like there are about 80 different topics that they could throw at you, and about 40 different ways they could present each of these topics. I probably should have done more practice, but at this point I either know it or I don’t. I’m not as nervous for this one now that I’ve got two under my belt, and the timing should not be rushed either. 

Post-test: Watching the clock tick down during those last 30 seconds doesn’t get any less surreal each time, and then, all of a sudden, you are in it. The test went well, but there is always margin for error. The College Board has been giving out many different versions of each test, and I have yet to find someone who had the same Government or Physics test as me. This brings me to wonder how they are ensuring all of these tests have equal difficulty, or at least how they will put out consistent scores across all of these versions that match up in difficulty. 

Day 5 (Friday) Test: AP U.S. History at 1p.m. CT

Pre-test: I am definitely most nervous about this test today. The test is one Document Based Question (DBQ) to be done in 45 minutes, you are to analyze five documents given to you and use them to support your response to the prompt. In addition, you must also provide two pieces of outside evidence to support your claim as well. In short, there is a lot to do in 45 minutes to get full points, and time is going to get tight. Even though I have three under my belt, I am definitely most nervous for this one. 

Post-test: The test went so much better than I could have imagined and I felt like I had just enough time. Bless the College Board for giving me the American Revolution as a topic and nothing too obscure. I am more than relieved to be done with this week. Only one more test to go, and that one is not until next week. The worst is over.

Final Thoughts: This week was pretty terrible. It lived up to my expectations. By far the worst part of each test was the 30 minute count down before it. The tests themselves were nowhere near as nerve racking as that. Was it terrible? Yes. Do I recommend such an experience? No. Will I be continuing my AP career after this? Unfortunately, I am too stubborn not to. Well, College Board, the experience has been real, but as for now, I need to take a nap.