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May 11, 2007

AP Exams

Bridget M. is a high school senior attending New York University this fall and one of Teen Ink's interns. Since she's taken four AP exams in the last two years, we consider her an expert on the topic. Here's what she has to say:

   This past and next week are arguably two of the most academically stressful times for teens across the country. It is the time when ability and mastery of a particular subject is measured through three-hour standardized exams. The pressure can sometimes prove to be too much for teens as they either anticipate their scores as another component to their college applications or as a means to bypass college courses. For either purpose it's important to calm down about the entire process and just study as much as you can, accepting that it's not the end of the world if you only receive a 1, 2 or 3 on the exam.

   Now that I know my fate for next year at college, I have been able to realize and put in perspective the impact, or lack thereof, the AP exams have on college acceptance. I'm not encouraging students to slack off, but I think it is important to realize if you are a junior, that the Advanced Placement exam is not the only way colleges measure your application to make the ultimate decision between acceptance and rejection. The sheer amount of criteria that factor into this decision outweigh how much emphasis students put on standardized tests. Most colleges have realized that although SAT and AP scores are important to gauge how rigorous a specific school system is versus all of its other applicants, they also recognize the importance of having a well-rounded student body, not simply a set of book-smart students. Some colleges have even gone so far as to eliminate the pressure of standardized tests by making the SAT scores optional, allowing the student to decide whether or not they want that number to factor in to the final decision.

   Your interests and natural talents are what will help you gain acceptance to your perfect college. It is important for you to consider more factors about the college than simply how good of a reputation a specific school has. The perfect fit comes from your acceptance of that college, not merely their acceptance of you.

So don't worry too much about the AP exam. You'll get through it, and the ultimate goal of the entire educational process is to learn, not to torture and create stress. So take a deep breath, sit down and review your notes. You've already done the hard part by taking the course; you have all the knowledge and are ready for this exam. Good luck!

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