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 Grace Naify completed the AP Art History exam, on which 12.8 percent of test-takers received 5s this year, after taking new teacher Liz Leavy’s class. Senior Sophie Naylor studied AP French Language and Culture with teacher Richard Day and took the exam, on which 15.9 percent of students received 5s. Senior Josh Friedman took former teacher Patricia Fels’s final AP English Language and Composition class and finished the year with the exam, on which 10.6 percent of test-takers received 5s. Senior Mehdi Lacombe took AP European History, an exam on which 11.8 percent of students received 5s, after being in teacher Chris Kuipers’s class.

 

Senior Grace Naify

Q: How do you think it went?

A: AP Art History was my most stressful exam because I really wanted to do well, and there is less room for failure. The multiple choice was great, though, and there was only one long essay that I really hated.

 

Q: How did you prepare for the test?

A: We went to (history teacher) Liz Leavy’s house a week in advance and reviewed all day. We alternated throughout the day between games and creating study sheets.

The day before the exam I had my class over at my house, and we helped each other study. I don’t think that was necessary to do, though.

 

Q: What was the hardest part of the exam?

A: There was one short answer that gave me a lot of grief. I knew what the piece was, but I couldn’t answer the question because the information (the AP was) asking for wasn’t in our curriculum.

 

Q: Why did you choose this subject?

A: I was advised by Brooke Wells to take it since no one had signed up for it yet. It was the best decision I’ve ever made in choosing a class, and I wish I could take it all again.

Even though Mrs. Leavy is a new teacher, she was amazingly well prepared, and that class was super fun.

 

Senior Sophie Naylor

Q: How do you think it went?

A: It’s really hard to tell. I was (confident) on most of it, but (since there’s) a curve and I’m not sure how the other people in the nation did, I don’t know what to (expect).

 

Q: How did you prepare for the test?

A: We did in-class essays that were timed, and for half of the semester in (French class), Richard Day was preparing us for (the test). We also (were given) homework as review.

 

Q: What was the hardest part of the exam?

A: The essay. The topic for this year was really general, so it was hard to format (my) essay.

 

Q: Why did you choose this subject?

A: My mom is the middle school French teacher, so she wanted me to take French so that I could talk to the French side of my family.

 

Senior Josh Friedman

Q: How did the test go?

A: It went all right for the most part. (It was) mostly what I was expecting from the test.

 

Q: How did you prepare?

A: I didn’t do a whole lot of preparation. One thing I did do was look at the Barron’s book for how to write the essay, especially the different forms of essays: synthesis, argumentation and analysis.

 

Q: What was the multiple-choice section like?

A: I felt that the multiple choice were mainly in the same style as the reading analysis of the SAT – and not too much harder than the SAT questions.

They mainly asked, “What does this part of the passage mean?” or (asked you to) back up a previous answer with a section from the text, like the SAT does.

 

Q: What was the hardest essay question?

A: The most difficult essay question for me was the very first one, the one (on eminent domain). I knew little about (it), and I felt that because I thought the topic was boring, I didn’t do as well as I did on the other essays.

 

Q: Why did you take the test?

A: Well, it was a logical progression for me. I didn’t want to take a non-AP, and I had always done favorably in English.

Mostly I wanted to challenge myself.

 

Senior Mehdi Lacombe

Q: How did the test go?

A: I feel I did pretty well. I was well prepared and did well on practice tests. I feel I missed a few, but if you look at test calculators, you can miss quite a few and still do well.

 

Q: How did you prepare?

A: We prepared for a week-and-a-half in class for the test by doing numerous practice essays and practice multiple-choice sections. We also all met the weekend before the test to have a large study session. Finally, the day before the test I just glossed through the book.

 

Q: How was the multiple choice?

A: The multiple choice was pretty good about covering all the time periods. It seemed like there was definitely more of a focus on pre-World War I content, though.

 

Q: Which was the most difficult essay question for you?

A: I would say the (long essay) question was harder just because you don’t have any documents to support you.

(From the three options,) I chose to answer a question about how Europe and the U.S.’s relations changed from the interwar period to after World War II. I was pretty nervous afterwards because I thought I might’ve talked too much about the U.S. and not about Europe, especially since this was the AP Euro test.

Luckily, I knew enough about the essay question I picked; I don’t think I would’ve been able to write about either of the other two (essay) options.

 

Q: Why did you take the test?

A: I was originally going to take AP U.S. History because I (was) a junior, but during the summer (former dean of student life Patricia) Jacobson emailed the junior class asking if any of us would join AP Euro to help fill out the class. I volunteered with some friends, but they all bailed later on, so I thought I’d leave after a week. But soon I came to really enjoy the class and (history teacher Chris Kuipers’s) teaching style.

—By Elise Sommerhaug, Spencer Scott and Mohini Rye