Students adapt to virtually preparing for AP exams

Sophomore Simon Warner studies for AP World History. At the end of the school year, students will take a proctored advanced placement exam in certain subjects, hoping to get college credit for that course.

By Ryan Silver Junior, Ladue Horton Watkins High School

Throughout the school year so far, COVID-19 has dominated all aspects of student life. Virtual school, safety concerns and adaptive scheduling have all had an effect on the way students learn. 

As a result, students taking advanced placement, or AP, classes have needed to prepare for the end-of-year exams and learn the information in unfamiliar ways. Some students view virtual school as a disadvantage, while others feel that they can learn the information as well or better than they could have in person.

For Ilai Kielmanowicz, a junior at Parkway Central High School and congregant of B’nai Amoona, first semester online learning provided a drastic change to the way that he had learned before.

“Virtual school was significantly easier than actually going to school, just because we started late and had less work,” he said. “[Though] the work itself was pretty similar to before, all of the work had to be online. Scheduling was also different because we had classes for only one quarter. I do think that online classes were well done, but it was easy to fall behind. ”

An in-person student for the second semester, Kielmanowicz enjoys the return to normalcy.

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“I didn’t really enjoy virtual school but so far, I like [in-person learning],” he said. “The school seems to be handling COVID well, people are wearing masks and teachers are diligent about COVID and school COVID policies. There also seems to be more of a routine this semester, and the classes that I’m taking are more content heavy. Now that the teachers are there, they can feel the room and are more comfortable.”

Yet despite his preference for in-person classes, Kielmanowicz feels that the online classes prepared him well for his end-of-year AP exams.

“While I didn’t like virtual school, it was necessary, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been and it prepared me well for the upcoming tests,” he said. “I don’t think that I have a disadvantage from in-person school.”

Simon Warner, a sophomore at Parkway Central and member of Congregation Shaare Emeth, is glad that virtual school was a safe option but feels that online classes were a difficult change.

“I have enjoyed certain aspects of virtual learning,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed not having to leave the house and not having to constantly be worried about my health or what has been going on around me. 

“But, there are some parts that I haven’t enjoyed so much, like not being able to interact with people. It’s also not very easy to sit down in front of a screen all day.”

While he feels less prepared than during a normal year, Warner agrees that virtual learning was necessary.

“I think that the schools did the best they could,” he said. “For us, we had our school day shortened from seven hours to four hours a day, from in-person to virtual, because it’s so hard to sit in front of a screen. Our teachers had less time to feed us the information they needed to feed us and had less resources to do so. While I feel like I could be better prepared than I am, [the school] did what they could, and things went well given the circumstances.”

Moriah Lotsoff, a junior at Clayton High School and member of Kol Rinah, feels that virtual school hasn’t made a huge difference in how she might have learned had there been in-person schooling.

“I feel that I have still gotten a good understanding of the material despite the circumstances,” she said. “My teachers have done a great job adjusting to the schedule that my school implemented. I’m really glad that it was an option so I could continue to be safe and see relatives who are immunocompromised without endangering them.”

As a result, Lotsoff feels prepared for the AP exams in May.

“My teachers are doing a lot of extra work to ensure that no one falls behind,” she said. “They have been very understanding this year with any delays or complications in turning in work and learning the material. Because of them, I feel like I am very well-prepared.”

While COVID-19 has affected almost all aspects of high school this school year, students are persevering and proving an adaptability and flexibility that will continue to help them through the rest of their high school careers and beyond.

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