Preparing for college with Advanced Placement (AP) classes have been more difficult than in previous years due to online learning.
AP classes are anything but easy in a regular school setting where you are constantly reading dense material, speeding through lessons, and being held to college-level standards. AP classes are tedious classes that require a high level of understanding. With everything being online, AP students have been hit especially hard as they venture into the unfamiliar territory of online learning at the college level.
“We’re learning at a slower pace,” Senior Emma Nastrini said. “I feel like I’m not learning as much as I used to, but it’s also harder to follow along with the teacher now.”
Nastrini has taken AP World History (10), AP United States History (11), and AP Language and Composition (11). This year she is working through three more: AP Statistics, AP Literature, and AP Government.
The struggle of online AP classes isn’t new. Last year, students dealt with taking the AP College Board exam, the test that determines if you get college credits, online. The test was modified in length and style to fit the material covered before Covid-19 hit.
“I knew my stuff in APUSH and having to only take the DBQ made my score go down,” Nastrini said. “When I took my AP World History test [in 10th grade], I did good on everything but the DBQ, and I got a 4.”
The college board grades on a scale of 1 through 5, 5 being the highest score which is difficult to achieve. The test is normally many hours long and is separated into multiple sections that are weighted differently; the exact format of the test depends on the subject. For the most part, the test will consist of a multiple-choice section, long essay questions, document-based questions, and much more for the vast selection of AP courses. Last year, tests were shortened to less than an hour and were either one or two sections long, so students felt like they got the short end of the stick.
“I don’t think I’ll be prepared [for the test],” Junior Erica Johnson said.“I barely know the material right now.”
Johnson has previously taken AP World History (10) and AP Capstone Seminar (10). For her junior year, she is taking AP United States History, AP Psychology, and AP Language and Composition.
Since AP classes are college-level classes, a lot of the work is done through homework because there is so much material to cover in a year. Homework is a large factor in succeeding in an AP class, but with everything being online, it adds more stress and confusion.
“It seems like it’s more,” Nastrini said. “Sometimes teachers don’t even tell you there is homework…I find it myself looking on assignments and finding that I have homework due that very day.”
In AP classes, the homework load is significantly greater than regular classes, and it usually takes anywhere from one to three hours a night or more due to the heavily concentrated material. Many AP students deal with an abundance of stress on account of the time spent on homework and studying.
“[My mental health is] definitely worse than it would be in person,” Johnson said. “I can do well on my own but everything has to be alone and it’s much more stressful than usual.”
There is no separation between home and school life which can make people feel like they are always at school. This feeling lacks a mental break leaving students burnt out, stressed, anxious, and even depressed.
“[My mental health] has not been that stable. I feel that doing nothing for months and then all of a sudden being thrown back has affected a lot of people negatively,” Nastrini said.
All classes have shown their difficulties online, but it shouldn’t discourage you from achieving your goals and showing interest in AP classes. AP classes are a great way to expand your knowledge in a subject you are passionate about.
“If you really like a subject, then you won’t even notice you are taking an AP class,” Nastrini said. “I don’t even notice I’m in AP until the teacher talks about AP tests.”