Crushing the Clock: Inside the Minds of First-Time AP Exam Takers

Lily Capizzi, Staff

“You may begin your exam.” Those words echo through the large gym as the proctor has finally permitted you to start the multiple choice portion of the exam. Taking one question at a time, you continue to avert your eyes from the exam to the clock, counting down how much time you have left. Finally, you hear, “Put your pencil down and stop testing.” You’re only halfway done with a test you’ve been preparing for since September. These thoughts go through the mind of a first-time AP exam taker.

“I was really stressed because I took it online during the pandemic. The whole format was really throwing me off,” said Charlotte Hanssen, a veteran AP test taker, while describing her first experience taking an AP exam. 

Amelia Menefee, a sophomore at B-CC, took her first AP tests this year: Government and Politics and Computer Science. Menefee described her experience preparing for the exams using one word: “stressful,” adding, “I prioritize studying for my exams over any other homework.” 

When considering whether teachers give the proper amount of time to review in class, Menefee highlighted how it varies depending on the teacher and subject. In AP Government, for example, teachers spent class time reviewing each unit weeks in advance. “I’m motivated to do my absolute best as we’ve been preparing since the start of the year,” said Menefee, an opinion shared by many other B-CC students. 

B-CC sophomore Fiona Narrod-Malcom took her first AP exam this year and used “scary” to capture how she has felt the past few months preparing. “Packing so much information that we’ve discussed in detail throughout the year into one test that takes less than four hours is hard to do,” said Narrod-Malcom. 

A pattern seen throughout B-CC is that students will take AP Government as a freshman and AP US History as a sophomore. With these two rigorous AP classes back-to-back, underclassmen get a taste of testing environments to prepare for their junior and senior years, when most students take four or more AP classes. 

Check out this Tattler article to see how you can break those first-time test jitters and score a five.