Self-Studiers Struggle for AP World Languages Exams Spots

Sai Pranav Gonuguntla, Staff Writer

Students at UHS who planned to self-study for the Advanced Placement (AP) World Language exams struggled to buy them after this year’s influx of students trying to take the exams quickly filled up testing centers. Due to students returning to in-person school after time away at IVA, high schools across IUSD struggled to accommodate space for self-studying students. 

UHS has consistently been open to AP self-studiers in the past as it has always encouraged academic growth for its students, but this year students found the process of purchasing their exams to be more difficult than a simple click.

“Since there is no AP French class at UHS, at the beginning of the year, I decided to self study for the exam,” junior Ashley Yang said. “But when AP exam sales opened and I first emailed Mrs. Gatlin, I wasn’t quite sure what the process was at all or if it was even possible to take the exam.”

The language computer lab at UHS where the world language exams are administered have always lacked sufficient space to accommodate students who plan to self-study rather than take the class during the school year. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, UHS was able to send these self-studying students to other schools, such as Creekside to take the exam there, where there was sufficient space.

However, this year’s increase in on-campus student populations complicated AP exam sales. Students who bought their world language exams early encountered problems as well.

“I tried to buy my exams the first night that the sale started, and while I didn’t expect to be able to waltz in and just buy the AP French Language exam without some work, I did not anticipate everything I was about to have to do,” Yang said.

For her personal experience, Yang looked at one of IUSD’s central spreadsheets to find the lists of AP exams that each school was administering, and she saw that Portola High School was the only one administering the AP French Language exam.

“The thing was that there was a snag in that the red box on the spreadsheet indicated that the exam was closed to those students not enrolled at Portola, which I later found out was not true,” Yang said. “I ended up in disarray because I was emailing other private schools and ones in other school districts, including a Lake Forest school, trying to get a spot to take the test since I was under the impression that I could not go to Portola.”

After further navigation and coordination with Portola High School’s AP coordinator, Yang was put on the waitlist and was able to register for the AP French Exam after one week, despite the tight competition for exam spaces that hindered the process.  

“I still had to go in person to Portola at 8:00 AM in the morning, buy the exam and then drive back to Uni hoping to make it in time for the first period of the day, so you can see how it would be an unpleasant process,” Yang said. “Overall, while it was possible to register for the exam, the work needed in order to find the logistical information, beat the influx of people, and manage to register for it in time was quite a headache and stress inducing.”

For the current 2021-2022 school year, the AP Chinese Language and Culture Exam is currently sold out in various high schools across IUSD including here at University, as well as Irvine, Woodbridge, and Portola High Schools. Additionally, the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam is closed to students outside of their respective schools due to the size limitations at University, Northwood, Portola, and Woodbridge High Schools.

“Between UNI and other schools, we were able to accommodate pretty much everyone,” Mrs. Angela Gatlin from the College and Career Center said. “Fortunately, there are many private and out of district schools who can take in additional students.”

Although the process was hectic, the majority of UHS students were able to find a location to take their respective examination in.