How Teachers Can Help Beat AP Exam Stress


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As April comes to an end, students across the world are preparing to welcome one of the worst seasons of their high school careers: AP exam season. Since the exam content includes topics that were taught throughout the entire year, many students have to re-learn a year’s worth of lessons within the span of a few weeks. This is a challenge in itself. But on top of studying for AP exams, students are also expected to do the same amount of schoolwork as they usually do during the rest of the school year, while also maintaining good grades. But is it really fair to expect a student to accomplish all of that? According to several students who are currently studying for AP exams, the answer is overwhelmingly “no”. On top of that, many of these students reported that they experienced high levels of stress from having to balance school with AP exams. 

“It’s very difficult to find time to study for my AP exams because I’m so busy studying for school assessments,” says Isabella Cardillo, a sophomore in the medical sciences program. “Not to mention that I also have to learn an entire unit of chemistry on my own. It’s very overwhelming and stressful.”

Based on some of these statements, it seems like students taking AP exams would appreciate a week or two where they wouldn’t have to worry about schoolwork. However, some people question whether or not teachers should do anything, since making their classes “easier” for a few weeks could hold the class back.  This begs the question: what can teachers do to help reduce student stress levels, and how can they do it in a way that doesn’t hold the class back? 

Taking a poll of what AP classes students are taking is a good start. It’ll allow teachers to know what AP exams students are taking and what days they’re on. This is especially useful in classes that have a majority of students from magnet programs, since they have to take a lot of the same classes. 

The next step is deciding what to do with data from the polls. This can vary from teacher to teacher depending on how much content they want to cover or if they need to test the students on a certain topic. One strategy that can help decrease student stress levels is trying to avoid making tests on days where many students have AP exams. This would be beneficial for the students, since they wouldn’t have to worry about studying for several tests at once or skipping a test in that class because of testing. Scheduling tests after AP exams can also help improve grades in the class, since students would be able to focus more on studying for the test. Some other things teachers can do is be more flexible with homework during the AP exam season or even give students free class time on days where a majority of them have exams so they’re able to study for them. 

Some of my teachers have started doing this, and I feel like this definitely helped alleviate a lot of stress for both me and my peers. On top of that, students have reported that these accommodations have other benefits:

“I personally think that this method is one that would benefit students and their mindsets when an exam is near, ” says Jenna Elsamman, a sophomore from the medical sciences program. “It would allow students to focus more on studying for exams without getting overwhelmed.”

Overall, it seems like there are many things teachers can do to help decrease student stress levels during AP exam season, and not all of them lead to the class being held back. In fact, there are many other benefits to teachers accommodating to students who are taking AP exams.

If you have any varying opinions or anything else you would like to say regarding this topic, please feel free to leave a comment.