May 7th marked the start of the 2018 AP exams.
After a school year’s worth of preparation plus additional hours spent individually preparing with Barron’s and The Princeton Review, among other test preparation books, students are ready to show their acquired skills.
As an annual exam, students from across the globe participate in these CollegeBoard Advanced Placement tests. Scores of 1 (the lowest) to 5 (the highest) are given, based on each subject – each year in AP Biology, for example, the top 6-8% scores are assigned a five.
“It’s really scary,”
ty Yoon, a junior at a Palos Verdes high school. “A year’s worth of effort is determined by my score… whether I get a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.”
Thus, quite an extreme amount of anxiety, stress, and pressure is inevitable.
There are, however, numerous ways in which students can relieve such worries both during and after the exams. The methods listed below have either been recommended or suggested by multiple health and education professionals.
According to an article in U.S. News called “5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety on Test Day,” one method is to breathe. Experts encourage students to close their eyes, take three deep breaths, pause after inhaling, then exhale “evenly and fully before beginning again.”
Although this first me
thod may sound too easy and thus ineffective, intentionally expand
ing your chest relaxes your muscles, encouraging them to function normally again. Furthermore, a surplus of oxygen helps energize the brain.
Secondly, experts recommend students set time aside for themselves. Whether it be for exercising, bathing, or taking a walk with their dogs, saving part of their schedule to resting and reconnecting with others is vital to both emotional and physical wellbeing.
If worried about procrastinating, students can set a time. Regardless, downtime is one of the best ways to become more focused by allowing the brain to briefly slow down and prepare to store new information.
Thirdly, physical exercise also prove effective in reducing stress, allowing students to focus on their bodies rather than studying. Since exercise moves muscles, increases blood flow, and works out a large portion of body knots, it allows students to increase circulation and improve focus.
Fourthly, and most importantly, sleep is a crucial part in both test preparation and stress management. While students frequently believe that pulling an “all-nighter” allows them to face an exam feeling more confident, experts argue that studying all evening is the worst possible response to anxiety. Not only is it ineffective to forcefully digest material at 3 A.M., but a lack of sleep also affects one’s performance throughout the day.
Eating well, especially through healthy meals, is another useful preparation method. With stress, students may desire to eat and drink whatever is most convenient or tasty. The quick calories of processed carbs, however, only leaves one exhausted. Instead, foods digested slowly such as whole grains and fresh vegetables allow one to feel more energized. Snacks such as baby carrots or almonds and walnuts can also help.
Silencing social media accounts allows students to better concentrate. While an overload of material leads to fatigue, scattered learning is only ineffective. Not every student may feel comfortable silencing or deleting Instagram or Snapchat for an entire week or so. Considering these platforms as rewards from intense studying rather than an obligation may allow one to lessen their addiction. From this method, students not only fix an unhealthy habit but also further guarantee successful test scores.
Lastly, experts strongly encourage students to take control of their own preparation. Academic anxiety often results from feeling dominated by the overall rigorous environment. Although others write the test questions and grade the answers, students nevertheless have the power to prepare as best as possible. Creating strict schedules and sticking to them, for example, not only allows a students to stay organized but also allows them to feel that they are on the right track. Asking teachers or tutors for help also proves beneficial. Whatever the strategy, do not be shy. Your grade is in your hands.
After APs are over, though, don’t feel guilty about resting! Whether it be visiting colleges, binge-watching Netflix, attending parties – safe ones, of course – or listening to music, just relax. Don’t think about how you did. At that point, worrying will change nothing.
Jenny Huh, Grade 11