To the relief of many Wayland High School students, the strenuous Advanced Placement (AP) testing period has passed. AP testing began on Monday, May 2, and ended on Friday, May 13. Nonetheless, teachers and students continue to attend AP classes as they did before the exam. However, with the varying subjects and teacher preferences, the way each class is run is vastly different.
Most WHS students and teachers share the sentiment that AP classes are now much more relaxed, as there is no longer a push to cover sufficient material before the exam. Many AP students are now encouraged to explore specific areas of interest within the subject, or simply take time during class to relax.
The new class expectations directly oppose the previous strict learning environment imposed by the guidelines of College Board, the not-for-profit organization that develops and administers the AP exams.
“The class environment is drastically different now that the AP test has passed,” junior AP United States history student Grace Marto said. “[Now], we are just doing projects and eating bagels, whereas before, we would cover ten years of history [each class period]. It [certainly] is a lot less stressful [now].”
Most AP classes also have a decreased amount of tests and quizzes, with some AP classes choosing to omit all types of exams completely. Most teachers tend to agree with this methodology, and choose to give easier and smaller classwork and homework assignments instead. For example, AP Statistics teacher Charlene Bishop gives a “post-exam project” to all the juniors and seniors in her class.
“After the [AP] test, we aren’t necessarily learning new material, but [are] more so watching movies and reading articles that relate [to the subject],” senior AP European history and English Literature student Lauren Medeiros said.
In the AP Computer Science A class, students are given vague guidelines for projects in hopes of fostering creative freedom and teaching students to apply their learned skills to real life situations. AP Computer Science A students are now given flexible deadlines and all of class time to work on projects, such as coding video games. This change highly contrasts the frequent testing and quick turnaround for coding projects that was required of the students before the AP test.
“Now [that] we don’t have anything left to learn, we can just use our [learned] skills to do what we want, which is a lot more fun and interesting,” sophomore AP Computer Science A student Katie Pralle said. “I enjoy class more now because [before the AP test], there was always a pressure to learn and understand everything [for the test], but now that pressure is gone.”
Some assume that both AP teachers and students prefer the class after the AP test because of the relaxed environment. However, that is not always the case.
“I like [teaching the class both before and after the AP test],” AP Computer Science A teacher Michael Hopps said. “Before [the test], everyone had a common goal, defeating the AP Exam, [which was great to work toward]. [But] after the test, students have acquired a lot of skills and now have the freedom to apply those skills in various ways.”
With much more free time on their hands, AP students have an opportunity to reflect on their AP class experience throughout the school year.
“I could definitely tell that everyone was a bit more serious, stressed and nervous [in the month leading up to the AP test],” Pralle said. “[But] overall, I think that [taking an AP class] was [completely] worth it.”