In-person AP exams return


The Catalyst / Clair Sapilewski

Gabby Wylie-Chaney prepares for her AP exams.

Each year in the spring, as the school year comes to a close, high school students around the U.S. prepare to take their Advanced Placement (AP) exams. The exams are intended by the College Board to measure how well students learn and understand the material of their AP courses. This year, the AP exams were administered nationally in-person during the first two weeks of May.
AP classes are known to be accelerated and challenging, as they introduce students to college-level skills and allow them the opportunity to earn college credit. Consequently, many find the long and complex exams intimidating.
“I took one AP exam this year: AP U.S. History. Going into the test, I was nervous, especially for the writing portion. The test was long and draining, but once it was over, I was relieved,” said junior Sarah Howie.

AP prep books can be very helpful resources for students to review and practice before the exams. (The Catalyst / Molly Phan)

During the 2020 and 2021 AP exam seasons, almost all classes had shortened versions of the exam online, with the exception of the AP languages. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, having groups of 20-30 students sit together in a classroom for several hours during an exam was far too risky, so students tested from the comfort of their home.
Now that COVID-19 cases have dropped, the College Board has returned to full-length in-person exams for 2022, which has been a rather difficult transition for some students who have only taken the condensed online version of the AP test.
“In my experience, in-person exams this year were way different in the lead up to the exam as well as the actual test. There was a nervous energy from each class leading up to it that encouraged me to stress about the test even more,” said junior Gabby Wylie-Chaney. “Online, I was studying alone and, as a sophomore, not many of my friends were taking exams, so the stress level was less.”
At NDB, AP exams were held in the Innovation Lab, empty classrooms and the counseling center, depending on the number of students taking each test. Students not taking an exam were encouraged to carry on with their school day quietly so they did not become a distraction for the focused exam takers. Desks were spaced out in each room to follow COVID-19 guidelines and to protect the privacy and integrity of each student.
One of the biggest obstacles that comes with AP classes is fitting all of the required course material into roughly nine months. Students are often found balancing their time between all of their classes and activities, and finding whatever time they can to review AP course material throughout the year. When requesting an AP class, NDB students are asked to sign an AP contract to demonstrate their commitment and dedication to the advanced course.
AP teachers also work hard in preparing their students for the important exams. They plan their lessons according to the date of the AP test, and make sure that all material is taught and understood.
“During the year, it is challenging to get everything done. I have to make sure students know the difference between each question – SAQ, DBQ and LEQ – and also how to follow the rubric and unpack the prompt,” shared AP United States History teacher Wendy Connolly.
Both AP students and teachers are generally relieved that exams have been finished. For students who were unable to attend their exam, make-up times were available during the final weeks of May.
AP courses are essential to many high school students as they demonstrate rigor, can award college credit and instill time management and studying skills that are important later in life. The completion of the 2022 AP exams marks the end of another year of academic challenge, and allows NDB students to celebrate some of their many accomplishments from this year.