5 Stages to a 5: The Reality of AP Exams

So it’s AP season! Yay!

Ugh. As a Canadian, AP exams are a huge waste of time. I’m not declaring my credits, and I really just took the courses because the normal stream of courses looked boring. Why not take on more work than you need to??

Anyway, if you’re an AP student, you’ve probably seen these books:


I’ve read the AP Bio and AP Literature ones but decided that I should write my own version. It’s more applicable to the general AP stream, so hopefully, all will benefit.

Stage 1: Excitement and Investment

You’re sitting in your guidance office when your councilor says it. “You should try the AP!” comes from their mouth, and you can’t believe it. AP? Isn’t that the mythical elite society of students? Isn’t that the best and the brightest, the people that are going to ‘Be Someone’? You thank your councilor, and mark the little AP box on the course selection form as you smile to yourself. You’re one of Them.

Fast-forward to the fall. You collect your $500 textbook you know you probably won’t open from the school bookstore and go to your first class. You drink every word, and invest yourself to this challenge 100%. You leave with 4 hours of homework, but you so desperately want to prove yourself that you belong here, that you’re one of the best and the brightest.


Stage 2: Exhaustion

November has rolled around and you’re swamped with work. Your grade starts to slip. but not your AP. You discover the world of AP bullshitting, and learn how it differs from regular high school bullshitting. You just want to sleep, maybe even fall asleep in class for 10 minutes, waking up to realize you’ve missed half a unit. Your teacher tells you that you signed up for this. Your comrades begin to fall, and only those committed enough to exist on 4 hours of sleep and 14 cups of coffee remain, while the rest are committed in a different way.

Stage 3: Frustration

You’ve reached a point where you no longer need sleep, and exist solely on the souls of the fallen and your desperation. but the material gets more and more difficult, and your teacher isn’t making anything easier with 3 problem sets and a lab and a test within a week. Oh! and that independent novel you forgot about. You just want to cry, and ask yourself if you’re supposed to fail this course. You curse yourself for checking the little box last fall and curse the school for championing the program. You just take a day and don’t do homework, regretting it more than anything else you’ve ever done, regretting life.

Stage 4: Panic

The teacher hands you a schedule. The AP exam is in a month. Scanning your books, you realize you haven’t learned half the material that could be on the exam. You take the practice exam and cry. Expecting to get a 1, you regret every life decision. You make every note, read every book, and do a shocking lack of actual studying in proportion to the course content. There’s no way you’ll be able to do this, you tell yourself. There goes your GPA you tell yourself. No university will want you now that you have a 1.

Stage 5: Apathy

It’s the day before the exam and you’re just so.damn.tired. so the next days s you stroll into your exam with an hour of studying under your belt, you simply don’t care. As you complete the exam and don’t recognize even a wisp of the material, you can’t bring yourself to care. peace is brought by the knowledge that you live in Canada and this means literally nothing to your university. you bounce out of the exam feeling once more like a child, carefree and happy for the first time since November. You feel the sun’s warmth on your face, and you smile.



….and then you remember you have another exam tomorrow and feel the crushing pain once more.

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