Dealing with the AP tests

DOWNEY -- With Advance Placement exams soon to be arriving in May, ambitious students at Downey and Warren are caught in the throes of their preparations, using every study skill and stress relieving technique they have ever obtained to help them survive.Though anxiety is an emotion likely to be felt in the last weeks before the AP tests begin to take place, the question of a student's ability to do well lies not entirely in the numerous study sessions they participated in, but in their confidence of their capabilities. Guidance Counselor Melody King, who has been a part of Downey faculty for more than six years, believes in the correlation between a teenager's success on an exam and their confidence, and that this confidence should indeed be felt since Downey made the extra effort to recruit the best teachers for these difficult courses. "Stress is one of the biggest obstacles people have to overcome," says King. "I know the kids are prepared. In the past, Downey scored so well on the AP tests that I know they will all do very well, so basically it's just: you're ready, so go in, relax and get it done. "We've made what we believe to be the correct adjustments so that everybody is prepared and the teachers here are the best at what they do. If the administration can't find someone that does an outstanding job teaching an AP class, we do away with the AP class. It's either the best of the best or nothing." Though the AP teachers may be keeping up on their end of the bargain, students do not hesitate to take extra measures so as to ensure their success on these tests. Especially when they are forced to balance more than one AP exam, the ambitious students at Downey sacrifice and learn how to manage their time so that they can get their studying in. One such student includes senior Eileen Rico, who has learned the art of balancing the studying for three AP exams and a sport that requires a fair amount of her time and effort. "I try to pace myself," she said. "I usually start preparing for an AP test a little bit beforehand. All I do is not stress too much about it and keep myself involved in extracurricular stuff like my softball, ASB and everything, and just hang out with friends but still save time to study so it's kind of a counterbalance of the fun things, but also of study time. I think that is the best way I cope with it." Though students are given the resources to perform well, test-taking strategies and stress-relieving techniques can play a part in determining just how far that student's capabilities will reach. Calculus teacher and previous AP test-taker, Richere Barbeau, attempts to assist her anxious students as they prepare for other AP exams. "Study ahead of time and do not wait until the last minute because if you wait until the last minute, you're going to be really stressed out and there really isn't a whole lot you can do at the last minute, anyway," says Barbeau. "Just try to study ahead of time and once that week comes around, eat a good breakfast and get some sleep and just do your best because stressing out about it isn't really going to make a difference. I see students who are taking like the AP English test and they're stressing out and you can just tell that they're really nervous the week before. I try not to give them that much homework and try to go easy on them but there isn't really much you can do. "You've been preparing all year so if you have been doing work and putting in the time, then when it comes down to it, you'll be okay."

********** Published: April 16, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 52