What the Future Holds for AP Students

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Mudd prepares students for online AP exam that will be in May.

Reagan Reed, Staff Writer

The reality that faces this year’s group of AP students is one of confusion and uncertainty. After last year’s AP exam, which to say the least was not perfect, and all the difficulties the students faced with the sudden changes, I can safely say that this year I was a bit wary of signing up for another AP class. Would I even be able to learn enough about the course to get a passing score? Would we even be going back to school at all? These questions were running around my head, and I’m sure other AP students share some of my same fears. 

In order to get some clarity on the matter, I decided to interview two AP teachers about what they know for the future of this year and how they feel they should move forward considering the strange circumstances. Mr. Mudd, a veteran AP teacher who has been in charge of the AP Government and Politics class for the past five years, said he will be doing everything completely different this year compared to the past, the main reason being he has no idea what the testing process will be like for this year.

With different districts within one state all approaching in-person instruction differently, let alone how differently some states as a whole are handling it, I honestly have no idea how the AP exam is going to be conducted this year,” Mudd said. “You have some schools in the country that may not go back to in-person instruction at all this year, so it’s entirely possible that AP exams are entirely online like they were last year. I mostly focused on helping students get better at writing free responses, and that’s what I’m focusing on again. I’m even leaning towards doing ONLY free responses for their tests.” As a previous student of this class, I know that this is not how we typically prepare for the exam whatsoever. We spent the first eight months of the school year doing tests with lengthy multiple choice portions and a mix of free responses, and then suddenly the whole thing was changed on us at the last minute. No more new content and only online free response would be on the test. I hated it, it wasn’t what I had been expecting or practicing for all that time, and now this is what will be protocol for this year’s exam. 

One of the biggest issues Mudd mentioned being a challenge this year is the fact that every school is different on how they’ve decided to do their education this year depending on even what county you’re in. Nobody has decided to do things the same way, and it’s difficult when you’re trying to prepare for a national test when no one is preparing the same way. 

LeAnnBlair, longtime Chemistry teacher but first year AP teacher, has also voiced concerns about all the things that are going to be a block in the road this year, but she has a way she wants to deal with them. 

“According to the College Board we’re at a disadvantage with this hybrid schedule. We’re also at a disadvantage because we’re on trimesters,” Blair said. “So, given the pandemic, and given our hybrid schedule, and also given the time constraints of our class schedule, and then I’ve  come into another obstacle of kids who just haven’t taken chemistry yet, so all the disadvantages are against us. I’ve been telling you all my philosophy this year has been grace because we’re just gonna get through what we can, and we’re just gonna do the best we can,” Blair says with a tone of acceptance. 

She believes that the way we’re all gonna get through this year the easiest is to just give each other room to mess up. The students should be forgiving of the teachers for not knowing exactly what to expect, and the teachers should be forgiving of the students for not adjusting well or not understanding how to learn quite that well under the conditions. Like she mentioned, the thing she wants to stress this year is grace, and I think that is a perfect policy to put into place this year because everyone is trying their best. 

Talking to these teachers about my fears and questions did help to settle some of the nervousness I was having about the AP exam, and at the same time it also made some of my fears larger for the exam itself as I now realize the teachers are as equally in the dark as the students. At least that means we’re all in this together though, right?

The issue that was really at the forefront of my mind though was, is it even worth it to take an AP class this year? What if I have no chance of passing the exam? However, the teachers wanna stress you shouldn’t only have the exam on your mind when signing up for a class like this.

Mudd’s opinion on whether you should still strive to take AP classes is simple: I give the same lecture every year, but the point of the class isn’t to pass the exam necessarily. The majority of the class is built around preparing students for college level classes and the work that comes along with that. A lot of my former students that have been the most vocal about how beneficial the class was for them either failed the AP exam or didn’t even take it to begin with. While the exam is important for getting the college credit, it’s definitely not the focal point of the class.”

It’s reassuring to know that our efforts aren’t being wasted and that these classes will not be a waste of time this year because we will get out of them what we put into them. Blair tries to stress the importance of kids who are able to take AP to take them not for the test, but for themselves.

On the subject of whether or not they are worth taking or not, “Yes, because intrinsically you all want to,” Blair said. “You all are that type of kid, you wanna be with kids that are like yourself. You are active learners. You have the desire to learn things, you have the desire to be challenged. I think there’s nothing more rewarding than doing something that’s difficult that you thought that you might not be able to do and you can.”

I will leave any students wondering if they will be able to survive AP classes with that inspiring message. Even if your teachers don’t have the same mentality as Mrs. Blair or Mr. Mudd about facing these challenges this year, as long as you do you can still gain a lot from your AP class. As the year goes on, hopefully I can search for more answers to provide you with, but as for now we all just need to prepare the best we can for what we know.