AP season: stress and solutions

Maria Cieslarczyk, Staff Writer

April showers bring May flowers, but what do May flowers bring? Yes, you guessed it: AP exams!

With the shift in warm weather comes what many Lake Park Advanced Placement classes have been anticipating all year: the end-of-the-year, $93-AP exams from College Board that determine whether or not a student receives college credit for that course.

According to the Princeton Review, AP exams are taking place from Monday, May 7th to Friday, May 18th. There will be morning and afternoon exams, each lasting approximately three to four hours long.

During the AP season, many teachers use review strategies in their classes, such as assigning homework packets that are then explained further during class. Other strategies include playing review games such as Quizlet.Live or Kahoot! To practice vocabulary from different units.

Although last-minute review sessions are proven to help many students recall past information about the various units they have studied all throughout the year, excessive studying can also lead to stress.

Renee Riggio, Lake Park West Campus’ school nurse, defines what stress is: “[It] is is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. In the short-term, stress can be beneficial for your health by helping you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing ‘fight or flight responses’ which are necessary. However, if your body’s stress response continues for long periods of time, the negative effects can be serious.”

Senior Student Jillian Alonzo agrees: “School-related stress has caused me to isolate myself sometimes in attempts to get all my work done and also do it well-at times, it has caused me to lose focus on other parts of my life besides school. Stress has made me push myself to my limit more often than not, so it adds an extra level of challenge.”

Alonzo, who is taking four AP exams this year, has taken previous exams for Human Geography, World History, U.S. History, Physics 1, and English Composition and Language.

“Being exposed to this workload is beneficial in that I’m learning a lot more facets to the subjects of these AP classes through the work I do. Naturally they’ve greatly increased my workload-I have homework in multiple classes per night, and the homework ranges from tasks such as filling out a simple worksheet to multiple-page readings to several math problems,” Alonzo said.

In dealing with the overwhelming feelings that many students experience during this time, school psychologists Jennifer Menold and Anne Coleman share possible solutions to overcome stress.

“Oftentimes, students put more pressure on themselves by trying to push through instead of giving themselves a break. [But] the best thing for students to do is create a plan to follow as far as what they would like to study and how to study the material.

This should help them relieve some stress prior to the exam day.  By feeling prepared they will hopefully feel less overwhelmed. On the day of the test, students should focus on staying calm, deep breathing, and using calming strategies to stay focused.”

Riggio also understands the importance of expressing stress: “Sometimes students know they are experiencing stress and request a few minutes to relax or talk.”

Alonzo emphasizes that: “Although one exam you take might determine an important dollar amount, that exam does not determine all that you achieved for yourself as a student. You’ve put in a lot of work to get this far, so even if you’re stressed about an exam, you should definitely recognize that you’ve still grown so much as an individual student, not just as any old test-taker.”

Furthermore, Lake Park provides many resources such as the school psychologists, counselors, nurses, and teachers that will provide further help and comfort to students who need someone to talk to or help them deal with their stress.