"Now I have to review for another week. I'm very tired of studying over and over again," Chau said. "The most troubling thing is that I have to continuously worry for this."
It's tempting — with high school in the rear-view mirror — to consider such earnest frustration a tad overwrought or immature.
But success in AP classes is not just an abstract glory.
A high enough score on an AP exam can earn a student college credits, shave off a semester or more of classes and — in this era of rising tuition — save a family thousands of dollars.
That's part of what drives students like Raj Toor, who works two jobs — 35 hours a week — because his parents were both laid off. "They helped me out for 18 years," he said. "It's my turn to support the family."
This week he will be juggling work, finals and AP exams, including two that conflict with one another.
"All the stuff I crammed, I have to redo now," he said. "I'm worried I might not pass my APs. It took a lot of devotion all year."
But I think he's found a lesson that's at least as important as whatever he learned in his AP literature and psychology classes:
"You can make your plans. Then somebody screws it up. And that's just life for you."
And in the multiple-choice test of life, his solution sounds pretty good: "You just have to keep moving."