Annual AP Exams Upcoming, Students Grapple with Mental Health Concerns

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By JAYESH CHAURASIA ‘23 and PRAGYA SINGH ‘23

As the end of the year nears, AP Exams become a major cause of stress and worry among students. Following April’s focus on state-testing–cancelled this year due to Covid–May approaches year after year and AP Exams remain a priority for students and teachers alike. 

AP tests serve as a measure of knowledge on a certain subject at a college level and often grant college credit to students who perform well; however, these standardized tests also increase stress levels due to the pressure and rigor of these college-level courses.

The College Board opened three administrations for testing this year, with the Edison Public School district selecting the last one between June 1-11, 2021. In Administration Three, most AP tests will be full-length digital exams, with students remaining at home and testing remotely using the 2021 Digital AP Exam app.

Students may be discouraged from their potential career choices as a result of difficulty and stress faced in AP classes and with standardized testing, possibly derailing students from prospective career paths. Regarding the past school year, Michael Evans, the AP Chemistry teacher at Edison High School, stated, “I feel that students who could have enjoyed a course in chemistry do not remotely, and I hope that this does not lead to a change in career choice.” Stress and pressure often lead to rash decisions as Mr. Evans explained. 

“I think the tests themselves don’t really affect my mental state; rather, it is the fact that I have to look at my computer screen for hours each day.”

Yash Mandavia ’22

Preparing for standardized tests in an online environment leads to students facing more difficulties. While the content taught in school does not change with the switch to remote learning, the environment does, potentially causing such changes. Students, in the past year, have had excessive screen time in comparison to the normal school schedule, which may be detrimental in itself.

“Despite virtual learning being inconvenient to many, in the end the tests end up being the same whether it’s online or in person,” states Yash Mandavia ‘22. “I think the tests themselves don’t really affect my mental state; rather, it is the fact that I have to look at my computer screen for hours each day.” 

However, the remote format of the school year and the end-of-year standardized tests only magnify the stress associated with standardized testing for some students.

“The experience of testing remotely is not very different, because the stakes are equally high,” said Saketh Sitaram ’21. The mindset of students is damaged as they discover standardized testing to be as stressful online as on paper. Despite the College Board’s aim, tests continue to be a problem for students. 

Similarly, the impact of a year of remote learning compounds itself in standardized testing for others.

“I wonder if there are gaps in what I could have learned because of online learning,” stated Nicole Le ’22. Remote learning caused students to move over certain topics in their AP classes with less depth. Instead of learning the full course, AP students found skipping content to be more difficult and stressful. 

Overall, AP testing creates a stressful and demanding environment for students, and even more so with the remote testing situation.

Cover image drawn by Alyson Zhang ’21.