Students cope with APUSH stress

Students taking AP U.S. History have been establishing methods for approaching the course in order to excel and manage stress levels brought on by schoolwork, studying and extracurricular obligations.

“They have to learn an entire year in about two and a half, three months. An entire year. So, that’s pretty stressful on students,” APUSH teacher Jim Pustay said.

Students taking the class also must become accustomed to a new style of learning that is different from their math, science and language courses.

“To pass APUSH, you have to be a historian, which means you have to study differently,” Pustay said. “Many kids don’t understand that concept.”

Erika Dietl, a sophomore, has developed her own methods of studying for the course.

“The hardest thing about APUSH is to always keep up and know the material,” Dietl said. “To study and do well, I take little online quizzes, look over my notes, go online to look different material up.”

Studying for AP courses also conflicts with extracurricular activities, making it difficult for students to find time to review.

“[You must study] on your own, in any AP class, about six and a half hours [weekly]. In addition to doing volunteer work, in addition to doing sports,” Pustay said. “Which is really stressful on a young person.”

New assessments, such as free-response questions, also pose a challenge.

“The FRQs [are] just extremely difficult, and [Pustay] doesn’t give us a lot of time to write them,” sophomore Jessica Blanco said. “I manage it by each day, and I [do] note cards and study.”

Blanco also explained how studying with a group has helped her performance in class.

“I have a group of friends that we usually go to each other’s houses,” Blanco said. “They saved my life so many times.”

Pustay also stresses the importance of having an organized and structured approach to the class.

“Kids, at 15 years old, aren’t all the same. Some can grasp the importance of being self-disciplined and organized,” he said. “You have to be able to find a balance. The stress is just horrible for an individual that doesn’t know how to manage their time, [who isn’t] self-organized, self-disciplined. You got to have outlets.”

Dietl says she finds that an artistic creative outlet helps her to manage the stress of schoolwork and studying.

“I paint a lot. It helps me relax,” she said.

Maintaining a balance is key, Pustay said, and it will be what allows students to do well in APUSH.

”If not, the stress gets to them,” he said. “They become ill more frequently, they get discouraged, and their grades start slipping.”

By Natalia Marmol