Editorial: Improving and de-stressing AP courses


Graphic Illustration by Lauren Liu

Lynbrook’s AP teachers that teach the same course should collaborate to further align their curriculum so that all students have generally the same preparation for the exam.

Epic Staff

Late April signifies the beginning of frantic studying for upcoming Advanced Placement tests, when students can be overly burdened by the AP courses they chose to take. These stressors often negatively affect students’ mental health. In order to combat this, Lynbrook’s AP teachers that teach the same course should collaborate to further align their curriculum so that all students have generally the same preparation for the exam. Teachers should continue to incorporate creative ways to teach their courses without compromising equitable preparation for the AP test.  

AP courses are college-level courses that provide students with an opportunity to take more difficult classes and receive college credit. Students are often stressed from the pressure to do well on AP exams because many take on more AP tests or courses than they can handle. 

 “Part of the issue is that if you’re taking five APs, it’s difficult to balance across all of those, when perhaps some students would be better off focusing on say one or two,” AP U.S. History teacher Kyle Howden said. 

All AP teachers use College Board’s guidelines that explain what concepts and skills to cover, but teachers have discretion on how they teach and work with others teaching the same class. Most teachers do try to go beyond what College Board requires, which allows the courses to be more engaging and in-depth. 

“We try not to merely teach the test, because the test is just a snapshot of how a student is performing,” AP English Language and Composition teacher Terri Fill said. “We’re trying to teach beyond the test so students can transfer their learning into college and their professional lives.”

Teachers also vary in their emphasis on the actual AP test compared to the content of the class. Some teachers go over AP test style questions throughout the year, while others do little test preparation and focus on broader curriculum. Especially during the second semester, teachers should focus on preparing students for the AP test by providing low-stakes practice tests or reviewing grading rubrics together as a class, so students do not have to worry as much during the weeks leading up to exam day.  

“It would be helpful for students if teachers offered review sessions during late April and before the test,” junior Sharon George said. 

AP teachers should still be able to have creative freedom and control over how they want to teach their classes and their curriculum, but course teams should come to an agreement on how to prepare students for the AP test so that students who have different teachers will still have similar experiences and expectations for the AP exam content. 

Another aspect that negatively affects students is when teachers assign tests or major projects that are not direct preparation for the exam during or before AP testing. Cutting down on high-stakes tests for upperclassmen during AP testing week is one way teachers, even ones who do not teach AP classes, can make this time less stressful for students. 

“When students are already stressed about their AP test, the last thing that we want is to also have to worry about another big test that teachers are assigning,” junior Leejae Kang said. 

Teachers should also be more understanding about late work during AP testing. This can be done by recording lectures and posting them online for students who miss class. 

“There is still the expectation that you stay on top of your classes, but we can be more flexible about when something comes in,” Howden said. “So you might have homework, but the window for its due date might not be till later.”

By creating a balance of test preparation and content, maintaining creative control over courses and not having high stakes tests during AP testing weeks, teachers can help students feel more prepared and less stressed during the grueling weeks of AP season.  


* The Epic voted 34-0 in favor of this stance, with 2 staff members abstaining.