After putting in long hours doing strenuous homework and studying for rigorous tests, all the pressure comes down to this one day.

For students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses, the month of May brings thoughts of studying and intense preparation for exams. After putting in long hours doing strenuous homework and studying for rigorous tests, all the pressure comes down to this one day.

For years, students have taken their exams at Shady Grove Methodist church, a small and tranquil area located within minutes of Dutch Fork. The church rents out their recreational gym to the school, and students sit in rows of desks, quietly taking their exams.

Recently, the school announced that AP exams would not be taking place at Shady Grove, rather they would be taken in the Dutch Fork gymnasium.

Shady Grove offers a number of different benefits to both test takers and non-test takers.

First, it is away from campus. Most AP exams begin at either 8 a.m. or 12 p.m, and students are instructed to arrive 30 minutes before the exam begins. Test takers arriving at 7:30 or 11:30 a.m. are not a disruption to the vacant Shady Grove, but it would be a disruption to Dutch Fork students in their normal classroom environments.  

Secondly, Shady Grove is isolated from the school. Test takers and prompters are the only ones at the church, whereas at the high school, there is a plethora of non-test takers that are surrounding the gym. To try and preserve the privacy, the school will have to get faculty to patrol the hallways around the gym.

There are also some other difficulties that will have to be sorted out. If the test is being taken in the gym, where will the students in gym class go during those days? The entire athletic wing would have to be locked down, and there are too many students to just stick in study hall. AP exams go on for two weeks, so there will be 10 total days missed for all of the gym students.

Research has also proven that a testing environment can affect scores, either positively or negatively. At Shady Grove, students are in a quiet gym with nothing hanging on the walls. At Dutch Fork, the walls are adorned with banners, advertisements, and don’t forget the enormous silver fox staring down on you. The distracting environment could negatively impact the scores that many students rely on to attend college.

Another minuscule problem that will result will be the bell schedule. While the school has been able to deal with no bells in situations before, there will still be inevitable confusion resulting from this.

Of course, the school would not have made the change if there wasn’t at least one benefit coming: The change was made due to money. Shady Grove does charge the school to rent out the gym, but it is a very modest and manageable amount.

While saving money is always a benefit, there are a lot of reasons to keep the exams at Shady Grove. The church is a sanctuary for students whose futures rely on the outcome of these exams, and if the school’s scores are lower this year than they have been in years past, the school should consider keeping the exams at Shady Grove next year.

Story by Trey Martin, Haley Dixon, Abby Beauregard