Things that go through my head before the AP Exam

In previous years, I have felt like a moody, hormonal, pregnant bovine1 in the days leading up to the AP exam.

This just goes to show: never be surprised by what you can find on Google images.
This just goes to show: never be surprised by what you can find on Google images.

The following is a list of thoughts that have actually gone through my head at this point in previous campaigns:

  • “Do all of my calculators have fresh batteries?”2
  • “What if the box of AP exams catches on fire? There go the last 10 months of my hard work…3
  • “Why aren’t more students showing up to ask questions during tutorials?!? They don’t ALL know EVERYHING…”4
  • “What if the AP exams get lost in transit on the way back to College Board? There go the last 10 months of my life…5
  • “Why does senioritis have to be an actual thing? Can’t some biotech company come up with a free cure that would eradicate it forever?”6
  • “If my students don’t do well on the exam, my superiors are going to regret ever trusting me to teach the class…”
  • “I really hope they don’t put a question on the free-response over that one thing that I wish I had spent more time on…”7
  • “What if a student does something idiotic in the testing room and gets everyone’s score cancelled?8 There goes the last year of my life…
  • “I can’t wait until the AP exam is over… then I can go back to feeling like a normal living human being. Then I’ll be able to sleep at night again.”9

Truth be told, now that it’s my 4th rodeo, I am feeling almost none of the above thoughts this time around. I do NOT feel like a zombie. Nor do I feel like a pregnant cow. 10 I can sleep at night, and I remember the taste of food.11

On the first day of class, when I ask students if “99” is a “good number” to them and to introduce themselves and explain why, the overarching theme is that a single number by itself is almost meaningless. Last year, I had to allow myself to be reminded that such is true with AP exam scores: At the end of all days, it is just another number.12


Curious to know what some teenagers are going through this week?13 I actually have a handful of students that are currently running the following gauntlet:

  • AP Chemistry Exam, Monday morning
  • AP Calculus Exam, Wednesday morning
  • AP English Lit,14 Thursday morning OR AP English Language,15 Friday morning
  • AP Statistics, Friday afternoon161718
  • AP Physics, Monday afternoon19
  1. a.k.a., a cow. Yes, a moo-cow.↩︎
  2. I check out some of my yellow class TI-84’s on exam day, as not all of my students have one — and you really want an 84, not an 83 in Stat.↩︎
  3. Seriously. Back in Season 5 — May 2012 — I was scared to death that something crazy like this might occur and totally ruin my life. I can readily admit: the exam meant too much to me that year.↩︎
  4. Though some would see this as a blessing. I’m sure it’s because I’m such an awesome teacher that nobody has any questions. Mmmmmm hmm. No, that’s not it.↩︎
  5. Again, the kind of thing that was going through my head in 2012.↩︎
  6. Sigh. One can dream. Except for the “free” part. That one word puts this item in “neeeeeeeeeeeeeeveeeer gonna happen” territory.↩︎
  7. Last year, that one thing was simulations. Made special worksheets and activities for it… but decided not to do them. Thought we’d be okay without. Hate to be on the wrong side of prophetic, but… that came back to bite us a little.↩︎
  8. To this end, we actually used to collect every students’ cell phone on the morning of the exam and return them afterwards… but now that almost everyone has a $600 smartphone, this becomes difficult from a practicality standpoint.↩︎
  9. Because, again, I feel like a zombified pregnant mummy-moo-cow at this time of the year. Incidentally I wanted to find a picture of a zombie-cow for this post, but… no dice just kidding – found one!↩︎
  10. Though with the new nearby Whole Foods and their self-serve barbecue…↩︎
  11. You know, “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King”, that scene where Sam and Frodo are on the rock right before Sam carries Frodo and the ring gets destroyed…↩︎
  12. No, I am not saying I don’t care about how my students do on the AP exam. I do care. But I also think that most students benefit more from getting a year of exposure to statistics while in high school before heading out to college than from just a single score on an exam. On the other hand, if a student makes a 3 or 4 on the exam and thus NEVER has to take another math class for as long as they live… well that’s a pretty sweet deal as well.↩︎
  13. #1stworldproblems, I know.↩︎
  14. for seniors↩︎
  15. for juniors↩︎
  16. Yes, this means my 11th graders are taking BACK-TO-BACK AP EXAMS. Or, as they like to put it, 7 hours of writing exams. Oh by the way, the Statistics AP Exam is much more writing than it is math.↩︎
  17. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE having our AP exam on Friday afternoon? If you’re not a teacher, let me impart this piece of wisdom upon you: Friday afternoon is the worst possible time to schedule a major exam of any type.↩︎
  18. I actually had a student suggest that we just order pizza and throw a post-AP-exam party in my classroom on Friday evening. lol↩︎
  19. this is the following Monday, just FYI.↩︎