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  • Regina Wang

Should AP Courses Give Finals?

A lot of high school students know the stress of AP season. Some, like my friends, would say it has traumatized them and burned them out completely. It is especially hard for those taking several AP courses; it seems like the studying never stops. Students essentially have to review the entire year’s materials in order to feel prepared for the torturously long exam. And what’s worse is: after it’s over, it’s still not over.

AP exams occur in May, and usually students still have a month left of school afterwards, meaning they have to take final exams. Those final exams, unlike AP exams, actually play a part in determining a student’s final grade in a class. Teachers vary in what they decide to after AP’s are over. While some may teach light material or give a project that still relates to the course, others may begin to prepare students for the next course above them, including new topics on their final unrelated to the AP they just finished. The question is, with the pile of stress that had just gone away after AP exams, should teachers of those courses still give a final?

A lot of teachers consider it unreasonable to make students restudy material from the whole year or semester for finals, after just having studied it for an AP. However, there are those few teachers that stress their students out again with new or old material alike. This often brings students stress as they feel like they have just gotten a break and now do not have one again. No matter how hard they study, there is still a chance that they could fail the final exam and bring their overall GPA down. It could also go the complete opposite direction, where a student is “A-locked” or “B-locked” in that class, and it leads them to give up on studying since their exam’s grade does not matter.

Bringing students more stress may not only cause them to fail a test, but their mental health could deteriorate with only a while left in the year. Mental health is a pressing issue among teens today. The constant pressure on them to do well has been on them for the entire year already. Expecting that much more of them for the final exam could just be the last straw for some, and could lead to them burning out. With a vacation about to begin, putting them in a bad mindset is not ideal for them or their families.

Those teachers who consider a hardcore final unnecessary are probably right. With summer approaching, not only does everyone need a break, but they are essentially already taking one as they become more and more mentally checked out. The last thing that high schoolers need at this point is another test covering months’ worth of material. And of course, it would not just be one class they have to study for. In the final exam window, they have to study for all their classes, therefore they cannot focus too heavily on one or two AP classes.

For the sake of their grade, however, students should still have a final of some sort. It would be a good idea for AP teachers to assign a small project for their final, or for their final to be a reflective assignment. Whatever the case, there should not be any extra stress put on high schoolers at the end of the year.

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