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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

AP classes should have finals before the AP exam

During the first two weeks of May, many students walked around campus with their noses buried in their Barron’s or Princeton Review Advanced Placement (AP) review books, frantically trying to cram in as much last-minute studying as they could. They had been preparing for the exams ever since the first day they walked into their AP classes, but it never seemed like enough.

The purpose of AP classes is to prepare students for exams that have the potential to exempt them from introductory level courses in college. The 3-hour exam at the end of the course is the College Board’s representation of a student’s proficiency in that subject.

Keeping this purpose in mind, it makes the most sense to have a cumulative final in the class before the AP exam so that students are ready for the College Board exam.

Other preparation methods simply do not provide students with the same quality of review. The classroom is the most similar setting to the real AP exam environment, so it simulates the best practice mindset. Taking a practice test while sitting in a familiar environment, for instance, simply gives students a warped perception of comfort during the test.

A final also offsets the imbalanced emphasis that is given to other aspects of the class. For instance, in one math class I took, the test category is worth 90 percent of the overall grade in the class in second semester, because the final category has been taken out. Since there are only five unit tests over the course of the semester, each test is worth nearly 20 percent of the student’s overall grade, which is nearly the weight of a final in other courses. While this can be likened to a college course, the system is not comparable to other AP classes in the school, or even in the area.

When the final is explicitly a part of the overall grade for the class, it makes students take the test more seriously. Some students complain about undue stress during AP testing, but the test material on the final is the same on the AP test, so all the work that goes into studying for the final translates into results on the AP exam.

Students may, of course, chase the perfect AP practice book, but they often don’t get the best practice that comes straight out of the classroom: a cumulative final.

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