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The School Newspaper of West High School

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The School Newspaper of West High School

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The National Honor Society provides help in many AP exams. Tutors were assigned to one subject to improve their tutees experience, providing advice based on previous experience in each class. “I recommend coming to these AP cram sessions because you can receive help from students who have previously and recently taken the test,” NHS board member Katie Ho (12) explained.
Time to Cram!
Katelyn Baba, Staff Writer • May 9, 2024
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An Accurate Judge of Knowledge, or Just Another Standardized Test?

Like+many+standardized+tests+with+strict+rules+and+guidelines%2C+there+are+some+areas+that+people+would+like+to+see+changed+amid+the+gradual+shift+from+physical+to+digital+testing.+Megan+Charan+%2812%29+commented%2C+%E2%80%9CI+would+want+to+put+most+of+them+online+because.+.+.+it%E2%80%99s+easier%2C+and+your+hand+does+not+get+tired.%E2%80%9D+On+the+flip+side%2C+Naomi+Yoshikawa+%2812%29%2C+felt+the+opposite%2C+saying%2C+%E2%80%9CI+think+that+everything%2C+all+the+English+exams%2C+should+be+handwritten+instead+of+digital.%E2%80%9D+%0APhoto+by+Unseen+Studio+on+Unsplash%0A
Like many standardized tests with strict rules and guidelines, there are some areas that people would like to see changed amid the gradual shift from physical to digital testing. Megan Charan (12) commented, “I would want to put most of them online because. . . it’s easier, and your hand does not get tired.” On the flip side, Naomi Yoshikawa (12), felt the opposite, saying, “I think that everything, all the English exams, should be handwritten instead of digital.” Photo by Unseen Studio on Unsplash

   Several hours of running on adrenaline and high strung nerves. Sweaty palms and bitten nails. A clock ticking down that draws your eye no matter how hard you try to look away. Depending on personal opinion, an AP test is either your worst nightmare or just another test. But here’s the better question: is it worth it? Are all those sleepless nights worth a score of five on your college applications? 

   Unlike standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, AP exams offer a lot more variety from one subject to another. And so, there is no simple answer to whether or not they are worth it. That’s a personal choice. However, it’s important to take all variables into consideration when making that decision. Depending on which subject you’re testing in, the AP test can range from roughly three to four hours long, comprised of multiple choice questions, short answer questions, and long essays — or some combination of the three. Students prep for the test year-round, often by practicing with past AP test questions and using exam handbooks. The AP test format bears remarkable similarities to the SAT and ACT, two tests which have been proven in the past to be an inaccurate judge of a student’s understanding, hence most colleges making these exams optional or disregarding them entirely in the application process.

   Naomi Yoshikawa (12), who’s taken the AP English Language and AP Psychology tests, commented that her experiences “really depend[ed] on the teacher, because each teacher goes over different things in a different way.” Regardless of the subject, AP tests are notorious for being nitpicky with their question answers, which doesn’t leave much room for critical thinking or subjectivity. Yoshikawa also noted, “because of the specific circumstances of my particular AP Lang class, we didn’t quite get to everything that we could have,” and because of that, the test “didn’t really sort of meet the expectations of what we were taught.”

   However, on the flip side, memorization and nailing concepts on the head is exactly how some students learn. Megan Charan (12), who’s taken five AP tests in her high school career, shared that she believed the tests are structured well in terms of what they’re trying to accomplish: “preparing and giving you college credit, so they structure it like a college exam final. . . in the long run, the test works for the student, it just doesn’t seem like that in the moment.” Charan acknowledged that “each test leans a certain direction and requires some memorization, because that is what the field on the test is about. . . but overall I think they lean more toward . . . making the student use what they learned to understand and get through the questions.”

*The opinions expressed in our Opinion articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily express the views of the Signals Staff or West High as a whole.

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About the Contributor
Alexandra Arnold
Alexandra Arnold, Staff Writer
Alex Arnold is a senior at West High School and excited to spend her first year on Signals as a staff writer. She hopes to capture the unique experiences around West through her words, and play a part in sharing them with others. An avid reader and lover of any form of caffeine, Alex loves to visit art museums and meet new kinds of people whenever she can!