So I thought I’d do some more “life” posts on here–not too many, but every now and then, just in case any of you are interested in the girl behind the blog. 😛 Anyway, I have exciting news! I know I’ve hinted at it in prior posts (such as in NaPoWriMo, etc.) about preparing for my AP US History exam. For those of you who don’t know what AP is, AP stands for Advanced Placement and is a series of classes that introduces college level material and rigor in high school courses. If you get a high enough score on the national AP exam for your specific class, you may be able to get college credit at the college of your choice, and won’t have to take the class in college. Sounds pretty awesome right? You get high school and college credit?
It was May when I took the exam, but we don’t get our scores until the first week of July. I checked my score last Friday and I was so happy. I got a FIVE.
A five is the highest number score you can get on an AP exam. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Five means you are extremely qualified for the subject you tested in, so I am happy to say no matter what college offers credit for the course, I am guaranteed to receive that credit. I am so relieved and happy.
This year was my first AP exam, and it’s an understatement to say I was freaking out. I know, AP tests are a little intimidating. You have to learn nine different time periods of American history for a three-hour exam in May. You have to know how to write persuasive/analytical type essays for essay questions in roughly 45-55 minutes. Short answer questions, multiple choice, document-based questions–it can be chaos! At the same time, I’m an online-schooled student. I haven’t really “studied” for an exam since I left brick-and-mortar to take online courses. I still learn material, but I have a more relaxed study system. I’m allowed to use my notes for my exams. I can take as long as I want on essay questions, I can plan them and decide what I want to keep or discard. I can retake exams, I can call my teachers for help.
You obviously can’t do that for AP exams.
Now, my online AP course was very helpful in preparing me as best as an online course can. My teacher was amazing, the Live Lessons (virtual classrooms) had excellent review sessions. We went over the structure and length of each part of the exam. There was plenty of study material at my fingertips, but that doesn’t mean it becomes easier when you need to learn how to organize this material into a way you can remember it all. The way APUSH is structured is you have to be very knowledgable on the big, general concepts–not necessarily memorize dates and people. I had this notion I had to remember everything to “feel” prepared, but everyone knows that’s not exactly possible.
I felt I was pretty much on my own for studying. I definitely turned to God for peace of mind.
Have no anxiety, but in everything, by prayer and petition, through thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. (Phillipians 4:6).
I had to keep reminding myself that I could do this. It’s so easy to doubt your capabilities. It’s also easy to forget who provides them.
You’ve heard it before. “I can do all things through God who gives me strength.” God is power and might. It’s not to say, don’t do anything and expect God to help you anyway. You have to put in the effort too, but you should also know how much is needed to be put in. I’m not a super human. I make errors, mistakes, misjudgments. I can easily forget things, I can have the wrong priorities.
I really wanted to get a good score on this exam. I mean, why not go all the way if you’re putting in any effort at all? Why take this class if I wasn’t going to take the exam seriously? That’s an important mindset to have, really. If you chose to do something, don’t do it by half measure.
But don’t expect to do it all by yourself, either. I studied, I watched review videos, I woke up early in the mornings to take practice quizzes, I went to both three-five hour-long review sessions that covered everything. I really wanted to do this right.
Yet I still felt unconfident. I was nervous, uncertain. I hadn’t taken an exam in this format for a while. It was my first AP exam. So I prayed, I talked to another good friend of mine who is as religious as I am. She reminded me to pray before the exam, to ask for peace and guidance. Make your requests known to God, and He shall provide! Let God take control and dissolve your fears. He’s always with you, no matter what.
The day of the exam, I wasn’t as nervous as before. I didn’t exactly stop being nervous, but I let go of all of my worries. How I do is how I do, I told myself. No more cramming or worrying. What I knew is what I knew. When I went in to take the exam, I was met by some very nice girls who made me feel at ease. They were just as nervous as I was, but we talked about it a little bit. Just by talking about it with them made me know I wasn’t alone in taking this exam.
I know, it’s crazy, right? But when you’re homeschooled, it’s really just you preparing by yourself. You don’t have in-class study sessions, nobody to quiz you, no study guides you have to complete by a certain deadline. My virtual classroom study sessions were filled with students just like me taking the exam, but it is still a very different experience.
Taking the exam: I didn’t know half the multiple choice, but I was pretty confident in most short answer questions. The DBQ was definitely a God-send. The Document Based Question is an essay question that requires you to structure an essay that answers the “prompt/question” using documents they give you (pictures, quotes, graphs, etc.). It was about the women’s rights movement in the 20th century (so, 1940s-80s). The documents were straightforward and I had studied a good deal in this period. I wrote so many pages for the essay! And the other essay I had to write had essay questions I had also studied for.
It turns out I was very much prepared for this exam. God guided me without me realizing it as I did my studying. I do appreciate my May self and her study habits, but I know it was God who was behind me.
I guess I wrote this post to not only let you know I passed (because how exciting?!) but also for anyone taking AP classes this upcoming year, for anyone who is nervous about any exam or really about any new experience, to know this: Ask God. Put in the hard work and the studying. Take the classes seriously. But don’t think that you are doing this all on your own. God will be the one leading you if you put in the effort and the sacrifices.
You are capable, because God made you capable.
God bless all of you and thanks for reading this pretty long post! 🙂
Pax in Christo,