South students take AP tests without enrolling in AP classes

Hailey Hauldren and Dani Tuchman, staff writers

At the end of the year, Advanced Placement (AP) students put what they’ve learned to the test when taking the infamous AP exams. While many believe taking an AP exam after a year of covering material is difficult enough, some South students go the extra mile by taking AP exams without being in the designated AP class.

Sophomore Areesha Majheed is one of these students who is planning to take an AP test without taking the course. Majheed says her Chem-Phys teacher, Jim Glynn, suggested she take the AP Chemistry exam to test her knowledge on the subject.

“I want to see where I am in Chemistry, because I’m not sure if it’s my stronghold or not,” Majheed said. “I think taking the AP exam will show me where I am in the class.”

Because Mahjheed is currently enrolled in AP European History, she has had experiences with AP tests and touched on the difference between AP and normal test questions.

“[AP exam questions] aren’t fact based,” Majheed said. “Even if you know the material and you know how to answer it, there will be a twist in [the question]. To answer it you have to think about the question and combine [what it’s asking] with everything you know.”

Senior Peter Westerfield is enrolled in numerous AP classes and feels like taking an AP exam after a year of learning the material in a classroom makes the exam experience less stressful.

“We get time in class to prepare, and that’s a big help,” Westerfield said. “I know that if you were taking the test alone, you’d have to find your own time to study and learn [… ] I think it’s a lot easier to use a book and notes that you’ve used the entire year to look back on.”

Elizabeth Lupfer, AP European history teacher, has had a lot of experience teaching and preparing students for AP exams, and she believes that students lose some key benefits when they opt not to take the actual class, only the test.

“I think the courses offer a lot in the day-to-day class,” Lupfer said. “You learn a lot from other students. There’s a lot of great discussions and insights, and our group analysis is fun. These are experiences that you’re not going to have on your own.”

Along with Majheed, junior Atticus Hebson has decided to teach himself the AP Music Theory material instead of attending the actual class, due to scheduling issues.

“I can’t take the class because it’s third period and I have Academy periods one, two, and three,” Hebson said. “I haven’t really been preparing aside from what I do every day which is practicing music, playing piano and singing.”

AP Spanish teacher Jorge Zamora is in agreement with Lupfer that it is very important to enroll in the class along with taking the exam.

Though Lupfer does see many benefits to taking the class, he noted that some colleges may find it admirable if a student gets a good score on an AP exam without taking the class.

Hebson stresses the importance of time management and structure while studying for AP tests without taking a class.

“One of the problems that I had with studying AP Macro last year was that I just tried to figure it out as I went along,” Hebson said. “Structure it and make sure that you know what you’re doing so that you’re not throwing away 87 dollars [in exam fees].”