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Op-ed piece about AP tests

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As the mom of a son who just came home from the AP English literature exam, I'd have to say I both agree and disagree with this student. I agree about the history (Euro and US) exams. They can be more slanted to massive amounts of memorization (though I don't think they necessarily have to be). But my son has taken two AP classes, Latin Vergil and the English lit (he'll take two more next year), and neither one was like that at all. In his Vergil class they didn't even do practice exams (though he did some on his own)--they just translated all year.


In his English lit, the students did more practice of essays and multiple choice questions, but that was probably only 20% (or less) of the class. Mostly it was reading, analyzing, and writing about literature.

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I feel badly for the kid who wrote this piece -- his APUSH course sounds like a nighmare!


But not all AP courses are like this!


My kids have done six AP courses, and NONE of them have been particularly test-driven. My kids have learned a lOT in their AP classes, but that's good! Their learning consisted mostly of learning how to approach material, with only some memory work. They have honed their learning skills, their thinking skills, their writing skills, their analytical skills.....


My kids have had fantastic experiences doing AP work -- the courses have been in many ways the culmination of their high school course work.


Child #1 did five AP courses (including APUSH).

Child #2 did six.

We'll see with child #3 and child #4, but I expect they will do even more than six!

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Thank you for posting this article!:) I really enjoyed it. My daughter graduated from our home school without taking any AP courses or AP tests. Without AP branding on her transcript, she was successful in the college admission process and is doing well in college.


Opting out of the AP track may be a risky path (kind of like bra burning or homeschooling in the 1970s). The entire American K-12 education experience is now very test-oriented. Completing a college prep program, and submitting ACT and SAT II scores, allowed my daughter to document her preparedness for college. Straying from the AP regimen gave her the gift of time to explore both hobbies and academic interests outside the AP scope.


I appreciate the effort and study involved in preparing for an AP exam and respect the commitment of AP students. The goal of achieving 4 or 5 on an AP exam motivates many students.


Students not pursuing the AP track may need to document their academic successes more thoroughly. Publishing persuasive essays in the Los Angeles Times is not a bad place to start!



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We are another AP-less family. Since we have a community college handy, I see no good reason for my students to spend an entire year in an exhausting AP class only to have the entire outcome rest on one test. I'd rather them actually take the class at college and get not only the information, but the experience.


My oldest dd just finished her BA in history (with honors), and she never took an AP test in high school.

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I guess it depends on where you're taking the AP class. My older kids have heard stories about some of the AP classes in the public schools here, and some of them sound awful. My son had a friend who barely passed the AP US History because he was so bored with the work, but he got a 4 on the exam. My daughter's best friend had an assignment for her AP Psychology class where she had to make a pop-up book (hers was called "Little Red Schizopheniac").


OTOH, we've been uniformly pleased with the AP classes offered by PA Homeschoolers. My son was one of those taking the APUSH exam today, and I can say that, having been his "study buddy" for the last school year, his knowledge of US history is truly awesome ... much better than mine after my year of high school US history. Yes, they never forget that there's a test at the end of the year, but he's learned WAY more than a bunch of unrelated facts.


Our community college is not particularly exceptional ... more of a feeder school for the public university, which is not particularly selective. I am pretty certain that my kids' "virtual classmates" in their AP classes have been more motivated, intelligent, and intellectually curious than those they would meet in community college classes, so in that respect, I've been very happy that they have had the exposure to other homeschool kids with similar aspirations and interests.


I don't think AP is the only way to go, but I've been very happy with our experience.

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