How Standardized AP Tests are Garbage

How Standardized AP Tests are Garbage

Cody Owen, Opinion Editor

Massaging your wrists frantically, shaking out your hand like it’s covered in acid, anything so you can get back to writing. Looking up at the clock, you have ten minutes left for your last essay. What was mercantilism again? You can’t remember. Now nine minutes left. Heart beating, head pounding, wrist throbbing from the last two essays you just finished, you hastily start writing likely the worst page of blatantly uninformed dribble you’ve ever written. Welcome to the mind-grinding world of AP testing.

Around this time of year, all of us who generously donated $89 dollars to “The Man” get to spend several hours in a hot gym pulling our hair out because, for the life of us, we just can’t remember who took out the Archduke in 1914. And just why are we doing this? Because the testing companies have given us the chance to have the opportunity to earn some college credit. At some colleges, which don’t include the Ivy League. Most of these colleges only give credit for a score of four or five on the test anyway.

These tests, despite their pitfalls, are held up as the pinnacle of a year’s preparation in the AP classes. All year, AP students are prepared and armed for that fateful day when they sit down at the long, splintery tables to face the maw of the mighty DBQ (especially for everyone who has listened to Downtown Randy Brown say “I’ve heard they added a few [insert random historical figure/movement] questions to the tests”).

For all the blame we can put on the system, how one does on the test is still a pretty decent reflection of how well one is acquainted with the material. Although a select few spent the year getting their packet answers off of Quizlet and score very well, most are pretty thoroughly screwed. Taking this into account, we should be grateful for the test-specific prep the teachers have given us.

Isn’t it us, as a culture, that so heavily criticizes ‘teaching for the test’ as the underhanded way many other countries get ahead in world-wide standardized testing though? Should advanced programs really just be a prep course for a test that supposedly measures the taker’s knowledge of the subject? Even Mr. Brown has admitted it’s more of a test to see “who can take a test for an hour and a half, then write all three essays without cracking under the pressure.”

How cruel and unusual to deliberately subject the supposed “best and brightest.” Simply because these students have proven themselves as intelligent, critical thinkers doesn’t mean that they aren’t slow writers, or have trouble writing an essay they haven’t outlined, or maybe that they haven’t been able to commit every small, seemingly insignificant fact to memory.

Approaching this year’s testing season, the anxiety–and carpal tunnel–is starting to set in again. Brimming with all the random facts and analytical powers that come with a year of an AP class, we’re ready for a rematch.