Life After AP: Teachers, students share opinions on the AP test; reflect on successes, lessons learned; participate in post-test activities

Gennifer Geer & Rachel Lock, Sports Editor & Staff Writer

A girl chews on her pencil, tapping her foot frantically on the floor.

A boy takes a nap, his face covered by his sweatshirt hood.

A student desperately tries to wipe tears off his scantron, salvaging what pride he has left.

All have been herded into the gymnasium for one purpose — to sit in hours of silent tension, squirming in their seats, scribbling down answers and furiously filling in bubbles.

Rows of folding tables and chairs place the students in neat, well-distributed lines, discouraging talking, texting or any communication at all that might disrupt the administration of “The Test’.

Hundreds of wrist watches count the seconds in synch.

Pens record all information that comes to mind.

All this for the students hoping to defeat the behemoth of the Advanced Placement test.

The test is the culmination of an entire year full of late night cramming, flashcards, frustration, annotating, obnoxiously large textbooks and practice essays.

The one assessment of the knowledge gained from packets, powerpoints and presentations.

A hope of relief for the last few weeks of school and less classes needed in college.

And, after three hours of grueling work, it’s all over.

Turn in your test — you’re done, you’re free.

AP testing takes place before the end of the school year, so AP classes have some post-test time to do with what they choose.

Junior Sarani Pachalla took four AP exams this year.

“I’m really relieved because I was really stressed out and this weekend I’m just going to wind down, have some fun,” Pachalla said. “I felt like I had to have a really deep understanding of these four classes really fast, and so there was a lot of late nights, not very much sleeping and I was just very stressed out. But now it’s all done, so I’m really happy.”

Pachalla said once the final lab practicum in AP Chemistry is over, the class will be able to relax more.

“After this week, we are going to party,” she said. “I’m getting Chipotle for everyone, and we are going to watch movies. It’s going to be fun.”

Pachalla said her AP testing load was a lot more rigorous this year than when she took AP European History last year as a sophomore, and she is taking five AP classes next year.

“This year I feel like I waited too long to start studying,” she said. “I feel like I’ll be able to handle next year a lot better.”

Sophomore Sydney Anderson said she was thoroughly prepared for the AP Euro test.

“I studied for about two hours a night for a month,” she said. “I feel a sense of satisfaction considering I worked so hard and considering I put so much time and effort into studying for the exam. I feel like my hard work has paid off.”

Anderson said she expected the test to be “ungodly difficult” but, in reality, she said it went well.

Junior Ricky Chen said that AP testing gets easier as you get more used to it.

“The night before you won’t think you are ready at all,” Chen said. “But when you actually take [the AP exam], it is super easy.”

Pachalla said she feels differently about different tests.

“Probably the hardest test this year was AP Chemistry but I feel really good about my English exam because we have been practicing those essays,” she said. “I felt really prepared going into AP United States History as well because I feel like all throughout the year, we have been challenged to really know the information. Even when I was studying and reviewing information, I felt like I knew everything that I was reviewing, so I didn’t feel like I had to really study hard. For AP Macroeconomics, I crammed the night before and I did feel really good about [the exam] because it was a somewhat easy test.”

Anderson said her first AP course encouraged her to take more AP classes.

“[Social Studies teacher Jason] Peres is a really great teacher, so I hope that the AP teachers are kind of like him and are understanding that we haven’t really taken these classes before,” she said. “I’m excited for it and some new adventures in junior year.”

Anderson said she learned an inspiring lesson from AP Euro.

“It’s not impossible to challenge yourself,” she said. “If you believe in yourself, and if Mr. Peres believes in you, then you will get a good grade in this class.”

Freshman Sid Hegde also took his first AP class this year, AP Calculus AB. He said he wasn’t afraid being the only freshman in class.

“It’s not really that intimidating because a lot of the seniors are asking me for help most of the time,” Hegde said. “It is pretty fun actually. I made new friends.”

Because Hegde’s AP class was mostly seniors, he said there was a distinct difference when they were done with the class.

“The classroom is just emptier,” he said. “The two other people still there are the two I used to talk to the most.”

With the smaller class size, Hegde said he and his classmates mostly talk, study or help math teacher Adam Wade with various tasks, such as moving textbooks.

Physics teacher John Holloway also has smaller classes with the seniors gone.

“I only have two kids so we don’t really do a whole lot,” Holloway said. “They helped me clean my room. I have a party at my house for the students.”

AP Biology teacher Azie Taghizadeh said she’s working with her remaining students according to their needs.

“One day we might do ACT prep because I know some of the kids are planning on taking that in June,” Taghizadeh said. “We were also talking about watching one of our ‘Planet Earth’ [videos] because we didn’t get to really do much with ecology and evolution. If, from that point, they want to do a lab, we will do a lab.”

Taghizadeh said if her students don’t want to practice a lab, they will discuss next year’s curriculum.

Other teachers have no students at all due to graduation.

After concluding AP exams and graduation, AP Literature teacher Linda Eagleton prepares next year’s curriculum with other English Language Arts 12 teachers.

“I like it because we always get a chance to start over and do it better the next time,” Eagleton said.

English teacher Britt Qualls said she also appreciates the preparation time.

“We really get to start over and start fresh,” Qualls said. “It’s a clean slate. If we did things that we hate, we get to scrap them, and we don’t have to hold onto them. If there was stuff we used to do a long time ago and we see that it fits, we can bring those out of the closet and kind of rework them a little bit.”

Psychology teacher Courtney Buffington said that the early date of the AP Psychology exam allows more time for expanding the curriculum.

“We are the first day of ap testing so it makes it very stressful to get ready by May fifth,” Buffington said. “So, we don’t get to do a lot of the supplemental things like watching the psychological films linked to [the curriculum] or doing some experiments like testing endorphin release and things like that. So, we do those things after the test.”

Buffington also said the students get to take a more active role in the class, like voting on what movies to watch or choosing activities.

“It is student driven — the kids make all of the decisions — because all semester, I have been driving the curriculum,” she said. “ So afterwards, we talk about what we want to do.”

Buffington said a fun supplemental activity for her AP Psychology class was to watch the Lego Movie and list the psychological terms exemplified by the film.

“You would be shocked with how many psychological things exist in Lego Movie — it’s awesome,” she said. “So, that has been fun just to be able to connect to a fun movie.”

Social Studies teacher Kristoffer Barikmo said that along with planning for next year during his completed senior class, his junior Macroeconomics class is working on a project.

“[The students] spend some time watching some documentaries and videos about current economic problems and current economic questions,” he said. “Then, they have to write a letter to either their senator or their congressman about an issue and advocate a position, or advocate an action on a particular issue that is around economics in some way.”