Advanced Placement exams are administered in the first two weeks of May. (Chuying Huo)

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London Central students prepare for AP exams with a study club

At London Central Secondary School in Ontario, Canada, only one AP class is offered but students can take any AP exams. To prepare, a study club is hosted by the AP English teacher.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/chuo8548/" target="_self">Chuying Huo</a>

Chuying Huo

December 2, 2022
During the first two weeks of May, groups of students huddle over AP exam papers for two to three hours, months of effort culminating in one day. 

The Advanced Placement program is managed by College Board, an American nonprofit organization formed in 1900, intended to increase access to higher education. According to the College Board, AP exams are standardized tests designed to mimic a first-year university curriculum. 

“AP exams allow [students] to skip that compulsory first-year survey course… and go right into something that’s of more interest to them,” AP English teacher Micheal Pizzuti said. 

AP exams are available in a broad range of subjects, such as English, calculus, biology, and world history. Each exam is marked on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest score. This overall score is a weighted combination of the scores on two sections, multiple choice and free response. 

If a student receives a score of 3, they have passed the AP exam. This means that they have the potential to succeed in a first-year university course, according to the College Board. 

These exams are administered annually by schools worldwide for high-achieving high school students looking to challenge themselves. At London Central, Ms. Abraham is the teacher in charge of administering these exams. 

Many schools in the United States offer AP classes structured around the content tested on AP exams to prepare students. However, in Canada, few schools offer AP classes. At London Central, the only AP class offered is the AP English literature and composition course. 

Pizzuti said teachers are required to structure their classes in alignment with the Ontario Ministry of Education’s curriculum. Because of this, the AP English classes he teaches are not tailored to the exam’s material. To prepare his students for the exam, he organizes a club open for all students at Central. 

Pizzuti said this club meets two to four times before the exam from 2:30 to 6 p.m. after school. At these study lessons, Pizzuti provides students with practice materials to complete in mock testing conditions. This allows students to review the material and practice their time management skills before the exam. 

Despite the challenges of AP exams, students at London Central have had a history of success with AP exams. In 2022, the pass rate for the AP English Literature and Composition exam was 100%, compared to 77.9% globally according to Pizzuti.

“An AP student is self motivated, driven, [and] academically curious,” Pizzuti said. “These are all skills already seen in [Central] students before they sit down to write the exam.”

For sophomore Pavlos Malevanets, AP exams are an opportunity to seek academic enrichment and stand out among applicants during university applications. As a freshman, Malevanets wrote the AP Computer Science A Exam and scored a five, the highest possible score. Malevanets said the greatest difficulty he encountered with AP exams was procrastination. 

Despite Malevanets’ success, he said that he crammed the textbook a week before the exam date. 

“I didn’t use my time wisely,” Malevanets said. “This year I’m starting to study much earlier.”

According to Rebecca Dymock, a teacher in the math department, self-studying for AP exams requires an extensive amount of dedication and discipline. Since each student is responsible for creating their own schedules, it can be difficult to maintain accountability. However, Dymock encouraged these students to seek out teachers for help.

Dymock said that one option for students is reaching out to an expert in the subject they are studying. This would provide students further support, allowing them to ask questions or dive deeper into the material. 

“I would encourage students to explore the [expert support] option,” Dymock said. “Failing that, students should form study groups with others working towards the same AP exams.”

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