Upper school students take AP exams with special bell schedule


Jessica Tang

Pencil in hand and timer set, Junior Jessica Zhou writes a practice test during an AP United States History (APUSH) class yesterday. The APUSH exam is scheduled to take place this Friday.

by Emma Gao, Co-Copy Editor

Upper school students began taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams on Monday, with exams continuing on campus next week until May 13.  The upper school operates on a special bell schedule during these two weeks.

Students taking 8 a.m. morning exams must arrive on campus by 7:30 a.m. for check-ins at 7:45 a.m. For 12:30 p.m. afternoon exams, students should arrive on campus by 12 p.m. and check in at their testing site by 12:15 p.m. Students who arrive late will not be allowed to test. 

Students will receive testing locations, also posted around campus on the exam day, via email the evening prior to the exam, and they will also be posted throughout campus the day of the exam. The Nichols Rotunda will be closed during the next two weeks.

“It feels like finals,” said Jonathan Xue (9), who is taking AP Computer Science A, AP Calculus BC and AP Chinese Language and Culture. “I assume it’s a more high stress version of finals. They seem pretty interesting though. I feel like Harker well prepares you for AP exams though.”

A special bell schedule will be in place during the two weeks of AP testing. While A and C days will still see periods one through four, a 30-minute office hours session will occur after period 1, and school will end at 3:30 p.m. On B and D days, students will have office hours or advisory, respectively, after period five, as well as a one hour and 30 minute office hours period at the end of the day until 3:30 p.m. Lunch will take place from 11:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every day.

For each test, students should bring standard No. 2 pencils, erasers, pens with dark blue or black ink. Students taking exams that allow calculators should have received an email from upper school Director of Standardized Testing and Scheduling Troy Thiele with more information; only AP Physics exams allow rulers. Cell phones, electronic devices, food or drink and stationery items other than the ones listed above are not allowed.

Students are excused from all classes on days they have at least one AP exam but can choose to attend them. Attendance will only be taken before the exam. At other times, students may choose to attend class, but the campus becomes an open campus for students either taking an exam later in the day or who have finished taking an AP exam that day. Students not taking AP exams are required to be in class.

Additional information about exam structure can be found on the College Board website. Most of the exams will return to a full-length paper-and-pencil format after last year’s exams were taken digitally on an app created by the College Board. AP World History: Modern and AP English Literature and Composition have in-school online options and require students to download an app.

Amruta Dharmapurikar (11), who is taking the AP Physics C and AP U.S. History exams, has mixed feelings about reverting back to the traditional test format.

“I’m a lot more confident that I can do better [since] I can look back at my previous answers,” Amruta said. “But I miss the peace of mind that came with not having to review my answers all the time and rethink whatever I did.”