AP Stress Nightmares

Isabella Goates, Pawprint Staff Reporter

AP tests are one of the many examples of standardized tests within the U.S. Unfortunately, the school systems tend to glorify them to get ahead in high school and prepare you for college.

AP tests are not easy, of course. But the sheer amount of stress isn’t always worth the AP test. These classes are college curricula that get you ahead, but the college doesn’t have such a sheerly terrifying and ominous test at the end of the year.

Considering the amount of money it takes to sit an AP exam, students might save money on college tuition. Still, the question is, is it worth it to save money if the students are spending their time and stressing way more than usual than if they were taking a semester-long college class?

Standardized testing has never been easy for any student. It puts harsh grading systems on students and pressures them to pass an overwhelming test. In reality, students learn differently. By using standardized testing for AP exams, educational systems conform our students to one type of learning and testing, which doesn’t always show the type of student someone is and doesn’t show how much they know.

AP exams also have a sense of inequality among them. The people taking AP exams are usually white, with enough money to buy the books they need to pass the AP exam. “And still today, the blatant disparities between white and wealthy students taking AP, SAT, and ACT tests versus their less socioeconomically privileged counterparts are present,” said Maya Henry, in an insider article in the Los Angeles Times. “As of 2021, AP Exams cost $95 per test, and the SAT costs either $52 or $68, depending on the inclusion of an essay in the exam. Such fees do not include the prep books, textbooks, and tutoring that are often crucial to succeeding on such tests.”

Parents and students place too much weight on the AP exams and fail to realize how that affects teenagers. Even with the cancellation of needing the ACT and SAT to get into colleges, they are still needed to get specific scholarships. 

“Such stress does not just lead to all-nighters and tear stains on math textbooks. As of 2014, suicide is the second-highest cause of death amongst teenagers, and more students and families are going down the route of extremities to ensure college acceptance,” says Henry. “The latter is seen in the 50 parents indicted in Operation Varsity Blues for paying anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to cheat parts of the college admissions exam, such as the SAT.”

The entire point of AP is to get ahead and be able to not pay the total amount for specific classes that you would take in college. But considering how biased a lot of the standardized tests are, these aren’t helping those who need real financial aid. Those who need financial aid to get into colleges aren’t always receiving them, especially with AP exams and such. The amount of anxiety and stress that colleges and standardized testing put on students to spend less money and not spiral into a never-ending cycle of debt is appalling. The system isn’t always in favor of students. Often, it is profit-inducing for the ones running the college and the exams. 

To fix this inequality, we need to support students who want to get into the AP exams but don’t have the resources to do so. This would make it so much more affordable for them and more accepting and helpful for students. Of course, opening up more resources to help students pass the exams would help so much as well.

But frankly, concurrent enrollment classes instead of AP exams would be much less stress-inducing and simpler for students to get college credit, show what they know, and not place a dangerous amount of stress on them.