Anxiety runs rampant as FHS students prepare for AP exams


AP World students, from left to right, Michelle Ledermann and Abbey Carvey, take advantage of their time between classes to compare notes and look over review material in preparation for the AP World national exam on May 16.

Anna Pierce, Staff Writer

As the two span week between May 6 and May 17 approaches, FHS students are feeling the pressure to perform well on the AP exams for college credits.  Preparing within itself is an exhausting task as students have to individually decide how to approach studying, manage their time and handle nerves.

Students use a wide variety of studying strategies that range from studying alone or taking practice tests to creating a study group or going to extra review sessions with teachers outside of school.  The tricky part is finding a strategy that works best for you.

Cecilia Norris, 12, who has taken multiple AP exams throughout her high school career, found that studying alone and going to teacher review sessions worked best for her.  

“For some classes, I had a review packet and a book so that was very helpful, but pretty much I just studied by myself, looked over notes and if a teacher had a review session, I went to those,” she stated.

In contrast, Lisa Sievert, AP World teacher, felt that studying in groups was much more helpful rather than sitting and reading alone.  According to Sievert, studying in groups doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be with friends, it could simply be with your dad or grandpa instead.

“Help each other and don’t do it all on your own.  Also, there is nothing wrong with Youtube videos. If that’s how you learn, there are plenty of them out there,” Sievert stated.

Similarly, Megan Ake, AP Lang teacher, suggests listening, paying attention, being observant of surroundings and utilizing teachers during IST to go over multiple choice sections or to talk through essay structure.  

“It’s about soaking in all the knowledge and transforming it into a powerful argument on the day of the test,” she stated.

Not only do AP students pour hours of time into studying for these exams, they also need to prepare mentally for test day to best handle nerves.

“When I think about the AP World exam, I get anxious and stressed because I want to do well,” Abbey Carvey, 10, exclaimed.   

To help handle these nerves, Sievert suggests to not listen to that internal voice and to do something fun the night before because, according to her, you really can’t cram all your studying in the night before.   She also recommends a solid night sleep to help calm yourself down more.

When it comes to the AP World exam, specifically, Carvey thinks the best way to prepare is to review notes from each era and to revisit old tests and essays. Most importantly, she finds Sievert’s Saturday review sessions extremely helpful since “Sievert obviously knows what the test is like, so she can give hints, and she can refresh my memory.”

With her experience, Norris found it helpful to “take advantage of the opportunities and help your teachers give you even if it’s not the most convenient.”

In addition, regarding the AP Lang exam, specifically, Ake thinks it is tough to study for it because she can’t inform her students what’s exactly on the exam other than the skill sets.  However, she still thinks that as the exam approaches it is always a good idea to reread the free response questions, do all the readings, and practice annotating.

“It is a lot of honing your skills throughout the year […] the class is designed to be test prep; we don’t just focus on the test, but that is the bulk of the class.  So I would say do your homework and participate in class,” Ake stated.

When preparing for the AP Lang exam, Ake also finds class discussions to be helpful as students get to see how other classmates perceive the information, and hearing things in class can help them form ideas.  Therefore, the majority of preparing for the AP Lang exam takes place in class, but it also helpful to take practice tests.

“We don’t do this yet, but it would be a good idea to do a mock exam.   So give yourself a Saturday and do a multiple choice practice test and the three essays.  It’s a lot, but something like that can help you nail down the timing,” Ake stated.

Not one style of studying and preparing mentally works best for everyone, and it’s about finding the best technique that works best for you specifically and helps you benefit the most.

“Study your hardest because saving the money is going to be worth it. You went through the pain of taking an AP class, so you might as well get your money’s worth,” Norris stated.