Here’s what to expect, and how to best help your students.
Advanced Placement courses are rigorous, challenging students with college-level materials on a variety of subjects (from the core classes, even through a variety of art programs). At the end of each course, students can elect to take an exam that can award them college credit. For example, a student taking AP English Language and Composition can take the exam and earn English 101 credit pending the final score. In addition to the stress of the AP exam itself, each college is different in regard to if they will accept the credit.
When is the exam and how much does it cost?
AP season is arduous, and a fine balancing act for all involved. Starting in February, students have to first elect to take the AP exam. Students sign up for the desired exams they would like to take, and pay for each exam individually ($92 per exam). Depending on the school, students can be in multiple AP classes and can opt to take multiple exams. For students on free or reduced lunches, this can be a financial hardship as they may be trying to find hundreds of dollars for a test for an opportunity at college credit.
What can I expect from my students?
Continuing through March and April, you will see higher levels of stress than usual. When we talk about the AP population, we have to first recognize that these are students that are the usually at the top of their graduating class, heavily involved in extracurricular activities, and often have a part-time job for experience. To them, this is an exam that has impact on their college admissions and records. It is daunting to the average high school student.
What can you do to help these students?
The most practical solution is consistency. Provide a quiet space to study, help them plan their month, and try to be transparent about what your classroom activities and deadlines will look like. Consider providing study sessions when you can. By consistently being there and offering a safe haven, you are providing more to the AP student than you may realize.
How can I encourage them?
In truth though, the best piece of advice is to be honest with an AP student. This can be viewed as a high-stakes test, but ultimately it does not define them. Remind your students that they are destined for great things and that they will change our world and make it better. Inspire your students; remind them who they are, what they are capable of, and why they will succeed on the exam. After all, they are your students. Who better to prepare them than you?
Required Reading for AP Teachers