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AP classes should not hold final exams

AP+tests+involve+long+multiple+choice+sections+and+essays.
AP tests involve long multiple choice sections and essays.

Taking an Advanced Placement(AP) class is one of the more stressful academic routes a Gonzaga student can undertake in his tenure on Eye Street. Administered by the College Board, AP courses are designed to teach at a collegiate standard and are incredibly challenging. The courses are incredibly demanding, in-depth and complicated, with students being held to incredibly high standards.

The courses culminate in one of the most feared ordeals known to a high school student: the dreaded AP exam. Three gruelling hours of multiple choice questions and handwritten essays, with only one short break between sections. It is an SAT on steroids and a source of great stress for most students subjected to them.

Despite these trials and tribulations, Gonzaga AP teachers still require their students to take a final exam as well as the AP exam. I am but one of many students who feels that this practice is overkill, simply putting unnecessary stress on students who are already so overwhelmed.

Teachers often try to mask these extra tests as a kind of forced review that students can’t run away from, their logic being that if students are obligated to take a final exam then they are going to get a comprehensive review of everything covered throughout the year no matter what. While they are, at the very least, well intentioned, I, and many of my colleagues, agree that these tests do not achieve their intended goal. Students swamped with AP exam related stress do not want or need another test to worry about. Finals merely add more work for students to deal with, contributing to greater stress among the student body and subsequently adverse effects on mental health, such as negatively impacted motivation.

Many Gonzaga students are of the opinion that there are much better ways to review for an AP exam than merely having a slightly smaller exam the week before. Between review games such as Kahoot or Jeopardy, review packets or simply going over older content in class, teachers have plenty of far more productive ways to review for an AP exam. All that is achieved by a separate final exam is extra work and extra stress, neither of which are welcome or needed with an AP exam around the corner.

Teachers don’t seem to understand that the vast majority of students who take their AP class take at least one other AP class in another content area. I personally take three, and I know several students who are taking four or five. Nobody wants or needs the extra work of double the APs, and it is the duty of our teachers to help alleviate some of the stress.

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  • J

    John AusemaMay 13, 2021 at 8:46 am

    This is a well-argued position, but I think a point of clarification is in order here. School policy requires teachers of AP classes to assign an exam grade. In normal years AP classes also do not get a “slot” during the Gonzaga exam week. So if teachers want to use a traditional test for the final exam grade it has to be given during class. Some AP teachers choose to give projects instead of using a test for the exam grade.

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