Under Pressure

Juniors stress over the expectations of AP classes


photo by Kacy Lach

Junior Trinity Turlington rests her head in her hand as she stressfully stares down at her AP Physics classwork.

Victoria Tomeo, Staff Reporter

Foreheads covered in sweat, hands shaking in exhaustion and what seems like endless tears flowing down cheeks. These are only a few of the symptoms that AP students show, especially the junior class. For students like junior Zack Weishample, these symptoms are not unusual.

“[AP classes] really allow me to challenge myself,” Weishample said.

 With seven AP classes, four to five hours of homework every night and daily early mornings, Weishample works to maintain all A’s.

 “I do believe that [AP classes] allow [students] to be more dedicated to their school work, which will lay the foundation for their senior year, which then leads them into college,” English teacher Samantha Richardson said. “However, I do feel that too many juniors take on too many [AP] classes.”

Not only are juniors expected to have an idea of what college to apply for and exactly what to study, but for the majority who are taking AP classes, they are also expected to do well in those classes in order to obtain college credit.

According to the College Board, the average score on the exam for AP Calculus and AP Physics is a four, while AP Psychology and AP United States History is a three.

Many colleges such as Dartmouth, UCLA and NYU only accept a minimum score of four on AP exams, which adds more stress. Also, colleges largely focus on the grades of junior year because they are the last complete set of grades seen when juniors apply.

“Honestly, I’d say I’ve cried about a minimum of four times so far over AP classes,” junior Andrew Ballantyne said.

 Teachers constantly remind students that the homework in AP classes, plus the enhanced study requirement for tests and quizzes is essential to not only passing the class, but also understanding the material.

They also draw attention to the fact that falling behind is not an option because the material is voluminous, and having trouble in one area can affect learning the remaining material for the rest of the year.

Students participating in extracurricular activities and sports have less time to complete homework and study for tests. Regardless of how many AP classes a student is taking, sleep appears to be the most common factor they lack.

 “There are times, at least once a week, where I stay up until 3 a.m. doing homework for my AP classes,” junior Erika Grasso said.

Despite the rigorous level of homework in AP classes, some juniors say that their grades in AP classes are better than in their honors classes.

“I think some AP classes are much more rigorous than others. I think that the jump between some Honors and AP level classes is extremely larger than others, as well,” junior Stephen Chapman said.

Another factor that students have to watch out for in order to do well in AP classes is their time on social media. Apps like Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram can pose a distraction and have a negative impact on school work. However, they can also be helpful with clarifying, understanding and asking for help on homework from fellow classmates.

“I think even if they didn’t exist, other distractors would be there. Distractions are distractions in any form,” Richardson said.

Although AP classes can be stressful and overwhelming, they often well-prepare students for college. The heightened requirements challenge the ability of time management, understanding college-level courses and balancing a schedule, in which rigorous studying and hard work prove necessary.