5 stages of taking an AP Class

As a senior having taken ten AP exams, I’ve endured the pain countless of students across the world have faced: Advanced Placement classes. The title doesn’t appear daunting, but we all know the wrath AP classes can unleash. With the end of AP testing for everyone (excluding the poor souls who are taking make-up AP exams), it’s nice to reflect on the struggle it took to get to this point. So, I’ve organized a list of 5 stages of taking AP classes, in honor of the coveted accomplishment of earning a 5 on AP exams.

1. Getting thrown into the deep end
After numerous discussions with your counselor, lengthy interrogations of college reps, and hours devouring the College Board website, you’ve learned the importance of having a rigorous secondary school record. And what better way to show your intellectual prowess than by taking AP classes? However the process of choosing which AP classes to take isn’t as easy as it may seem. Everyone knows the unspoken hierarchy of AP classes (Physics C is significantly higher up the AP totem pole than Psychology). But after months of deliberation, you choose AP classes that spark your interest and will please college admissions officers. Your syllabi are the length of tomes, teachers assume you know the fundamentals of the subject, and somehow you’re already behind on your work (even though the school year has just begun). You soon learn to laugh at the idea of sleep, and your social life will fade into a distant memory. Welcome to the AP life.

2. Spring AKA the arrival of “Flowers of Freedom”
You’re almost there. Really, you are. Starting in April, the jacarandas and cherry blossoms begin to bloom. And then the “Flowers of Freedom” take full form (a term coined by my AP US History teacher). With each new flower, you are one step closer to freedom. You’ve sat in hours upon hours of lectures, frantically scrawled timed essays, and studied for all your tests and finals. Soon you will no longer need to arrive at school at 6:30 am for German review or leave school at 7:00 pm after a Calculus study session. The months of sleepless nights are finally coming to an end, and you, my friend, are going to make it.

3. AP Exam Season
This is it. After scouring through every AP prep book Barron’s, Princeton Review, and Kaplan have to offer, exam day (or really the couple of exam weeks) has arrived. You follow all your classes’ superstitious rituals: bless your pencil and hand with your European History teacher’s interdenominational holy water; rub your APUSH teacher’s lucky tiki. But really it’s all down to you. You’ve put in all the long hours, and this test is a chance to show all your hard work. You go out there and slay the AP beasts. #goforthe5

4. Post-Exam Existential Crisis
Once the euphoric high of finishing all your AP exams dwindles down, you realize school isn’t over yet. All of your teachers still assign 10-page process papers, 20-minute documentaries, and in-class presentations. Sometimes, it feels like they coordinate to ensure all your projects will be due the same day. AP classes are meant to prepare you for the AP exam, and yet your teacher still teaching after the exam! You’re stuck in the paradoxical state between being mentally finished and wanting school to be actually finished. But still you take solace in the fact that you can commiserate along side your fellow AP classmates (they understand your struggle).

5. AP scores released = Summer begins
Although most adults think summer beings once school is out, summer actually starts once AP scores are released. You anxiously log onto your College Board account, hoping to see 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s. But in the end, you are more than an AP score. Whether you earned the score you wanted or not, the school year is over and the wonders of summer await. Enjoy it.

For all the seniors, spend time with your friends and family before you go off to college. If you’re an underclassman, don’t worry about the foreboding AP process in the upcoming year. You’ve worked hard too, and you deserve a break. Even though we all complain about the stress that comes with taking AP classes, there is a silver lining (For those of you in AP English Lang or Lit: please pardon the hackneyed saying).

Taking AP courses provides not only the opportunity to earn college credit, but enriches the minds of students in a way that surpasses the class room environment. In years to come, you won’t remember what score you got on your exams (or even all the things you learned), but you will remember the art of hard work. And that is something that can’t be quantified by any single digit number.

(Images via herehere, here, here, here, and here.)

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