Piece by Piece: AP in moderation


Brian Higgins

Staff reporter Madison Saviano explores hot topics and issues that students face in her weekly column Piece by Piece.

Madison Saviano, Staff Reporter

After about eight consecutive hours of testing, I was pleased to find out that the proctors were letting us choose whether or not we wanted to attend fourth. 

By far, I have spent more time testing in the past 24 hours than I have sleeping. Confoundingly, though, I did not feel tired. My close friend, who took the AP Spanish exam with me, slept no more than six hours, and she felt in a similar way. People often feel burnt out this time of year, but for some whose flame sizzled out a while ago, the new capacity they have found themselves capable of is a bit bewildering. Not in a good way, or a negative way either; in the simplest terms it’s just surprising. It makes you wonder just what exactly this could be preparing you for. 

I don’t think this is preparing me for the SATs or for senior year or for whatever other college readiness reason one might have in mind. I think that, for better or for worse, it’s teaching me how to grind, how to do things I don’t want to do, and more or less how to adapt to whatever new standard of living I at some point may be expected to embrace. 

I also don’t think that there’s anything inherently wrong with this. Of all things, I value grit and mettle and gumption. I think that there are always little tests of spirit sprinkled throughout life, and if the going gets really tough, the stakes will sure rise as well. Point is, these are good traits to have in your arsenal or in the back of your toolshed. And if every few months or so you need a tribulation thrown at you to keep the edges sharp, so be it. 

My problem comes when one has to deploy these kinds of tactics at all times, or even a lot of the time. This is the kind of pressure that drives cheating rates sky high and forces some of the best and the brightest to use their resourcefulness for not so admirable reasons. 

And to be clear, I don’t blame the conditions for such deplorable outcomes, I think to each their own, but there’s no denying the correlation, if not the causation. 

And to this, one might be inclined to say, “well they never had to do this to themselves.” And to that they’d likely be right. Unless a student had their parents hovering above them while they filled out their course registration card, there’s no explicit reason why they should be suffering five or more AP classes, right? 

Right, but on the contrary there are many implicit reasons. I won’t try to prove my point with a top five reasons list, there are many more than that anyways, but any grade-conscious student could tell you if you asked. 

I’m sure it’s a wivestale that kids who take AP classes are smarter or more capable and forward-looking than those who don’t; honestly the opposite may just as well be true. I think that intelligence has little to do with it. Awareness, though, that’s something quite crucial in making a well informed decision, because it means weeding out what you are not inspired to take from what you actually are. 

With this in mind, I still fully intend on doing the same thing next year. Maybe it’s an automated response or something, not exactly sure. It seems that most of the year I thoroughly enjoy most of my classes and it’s not until the end of the year under different circumstances do I find a bit of fault. Everyone is different, and as I said before I do not think there’s anything wrong with sharpening your skills, but like always moderation is something to consider.