A Junior’s Review of the 2021 AP Season

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Erin Hong, Staff Writer

In honor of the AP season being almost over, Tenafly High School juniors shared their experiences with this year’s APs. 

Upon the completion of my fifth and last exam, I would like to say that the AP season was one of the most challenging moments of the school year. This year’s particular testing methods due to COVID-19 in combination with junior year have certainly been unique.

The 2021 AP exams were offered both at home in a digital format and in person as a physical paper-and-pencil format. The College Board provided three administration sets (one in early May, one in late May, and one in early June) and students were able to select their administration. Unlike last year’s exams, the 2021 exams were all full-length. 

Hannah Joung (‘22), who took all her exams online, said that she likely would’ve done better in person because it was easier to stay unmotivated in online testing. “Since I had to take all of my tests in the comfort of my own room instead of a genuine testing environment, the gravity of the situation didn’t fully register in my head until it was too late.” On the other hand, she liked the fact that she did not have to worry about waking up early and physically arriving at a testing location. “I liked being able to simply sign into the AP app thirty minutes before the exam and go to my own bathroom instead of walking around an unfamiliar building.” 

Grace Lee (’22), in contrast, chose to take the AP Language and Composition test in person. The reason for this, she said, was because she wanted to be able to go back and forth between the questions to better understand the passage-based test. “I would rather have an advantage with the multiple-choice questions and write my essays by hand.” She also stated that it’s worth more to her personally, as she doesn’t mind writing the essays by hand and that writing by hand allows her to see everything clearly, especially mistakes and ideas. “I believe that the one thing the online test-takers aren’t able to experience is the personal satisfaction of physically finishing a test because the online option takes away the feeling of a real AP exam.”

I personally disliked the fact that I was not allowed to go back and forth between questions, but what I believed to be brutal was typing math equations onto my device. Instead of being able to quickly write down complicated calculus equations on the answer sheet, much unnecessary time was wasted in typing in the answers. Sherry Feng (’22), who wanted to avoid having to type up her Free Response Questions, agreed. When she took the AP Calculus BC exam in person, she said that she felt like she was more focused in contrast to taking it online. 

Overall, I appreciated that students were given enough flexibility to be able to choose when and how they would like to take their tests. It remains to be seen what the format of next year’s AP exams will be, but this year’s certainly gave students something to look back on.