AP Aftermath: Senior self-prepares for AP Psychology exam; juniors unstressed about Spanish exams

From May 7 to 18, students around the country sat down in libraries, unused classrooms and even gyms to bubble in scantron sheets for one or multiple of the 38 AP (Advanced Placement) exams.

Scores were released in California and other regions of the West Coast on July 5. In this four-part series, test-takers were interviewed to shed light on this two-week phenomenon and give advice.

Senior Mohini Rye took AP Psychology after months of self-study, an exam on which 21 percent of test-takers received 5s this year. Junior Naomi Turnbull took the AP Spanish Language and Culture test, on which 23.2 percent of students received 5s, after spending the year in teacher Patricia Portillo’s class. Junior Anu Krishnan, who took the AP Spanish Literature and Culture class with Portillo, took the exam, on which only 9.2 percent of students received 5s. Senior Jacqueline Chao finished her year of AP Chemistry by taking the exam, on which 12.6 percent of students received 5s.  


Senior Mohini Rye

Q: Why did you decide to take AP Psych?

A: I’ve always liked psychology, and we don’t have a class here, so I just decided to try doing the AP by myself by self-studying.


Q: How did you prepare for it?

A: I had a Barron’s book that I read starting over winter break and leading up to the AP. Barron’s is (an American test preparation company.) And then in the last couple weeks before the AP, I started going through study guides that other teachers had put on the internet. I used those to learn all the terms and see if I had any weak spots.


Q: How do you think you did?

A: I think that I was relatively prepared. There were some things that I had not seen when I was studying, which I think is just a problem that happens when you are the only person doing the studying because I didn’t have anything to compare it to. But other than that I knew most of the terms, and going through previous free-response questions really helped.


Junior Anu Krishnan

Q: How did you prepare?

A: I made flashcards of everything I needed to know about the stories (we needed to know). I made a Quizlet, which had the themes and literary terms. I also went back and reread all of the stories and poems. I knew the format of the test: multiple choice and four essays. And I knew the essay prompts, just not what stories/poems they would be for. I also did practice tests.


Q: Did you feel prepared?

A: Yeah, I did. Honestly, you can study to a certain extent, but you (still) just don’t know what to expect.


Junior Naomi Turnbull

Q: Did you study for the test?

A: I just used the time we had in class. I didn’t study outside of class. The whole point of the class was to prepare for the AP.


Q: Did you feel prepared?

A: Yeah.


Q: How do you think you did?

A: I feel like I got a 4, I don’t know about a 5. I am a native Spanish speaker so I know a lot of it pretty well. But there were some things I wasn’t as prepared for, like the essay.


Senior Jacqueline Chao

Q: How much did you study?

A: I actually studied a lot. I really started studying two weekends before (the AP). I got a review book, and it (included) six big ideas. First I did a practice test in the book. Then for the first weekend I did two of the chapters. And then throughout the week I did another chapter. The weekend right before the exam I did three chapters and (another) practice exam. Building up to that, I (also) printed out all of the free-response questions on the college board website, and I did most of them, focusing on the things I didn’t feel as confident about.


Q: Did you feel prepared?

A: I felt okay. Not super confident. I know it is a hard exam and only like 10 percent of the test takers get 5s. But it is not like I was gonna come out wishing I had studied more because I studied a lot and what I get is what I get. I feel like over the year Ms. Conner has covered all of the topics with us but it has been a long time since, so the review book was a good way to summarize all the ideas. It was kind of like a checklist to see what I was missing.


Q: Was the test what you expected?
A: Yeah, it was as difficult as I imagined it to be. I figured that I wouldn’t take the whole time, which I didn’t.


Q: What do you think you got?

A: I’m hoping for a 4 or a 3. They release the free-response section a few days after the test so I looked over it. I might have misread some of the questions, which was stupid, but they don’t release the multiple-choice section so I don’t know about that. Overall, I think I got all the points I could.

—By Anna Frankel

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