Jump to content

Menu

Changes in AP (and other test prep) through the years


Recommended Posts

I graduated from good public high school in 1987 that offered one AP class - AP Chemistry.  I took the class as a junior.  We did not take any practice tests in class or do a lot of review.  I did no review outside of class nor did my peers that I know of.  I walked into the test cold, took it, and scored well enough the place out of Chemistry at the state university where I majored in engineering.  It was pretty much the same for the SAT.  We took it once without the prep classes, etc. and that was it.  I was not a gifted student, just your typical hard worker.  I took two other AP tests my senior year without the official courses and with the same lack of prep and did fine again.

 

Fast forward to today... my son is taking AP Chem, and the test prep is significant.  Many, many practice tests and all of the tests through the year have been geared to be like an AP test.  I am gearing up to teach AP Calculus next year and the emphasis on test practice is not insignificant.

 

I am trying to wrap my brain around this.  Is it harder to score well these days because the curve is driven higher because kids are prepping more which drives the curve up which.... you get the idea. :)

 

Or are the tests just harder now?

 

Thoughts?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part of the problem is that the AP test is not like normal class tests (in college or anywhere else).

 

In normal chem classes,  The students are assigned a lab,  do the lab, write the lab report and grade it. You can't do that in a four hour test. In history and English classes, the student does the research and writes a term paper - he isn't handed a few cherry-picked documents to write a 30 minutes essay. In a language course, the oral test is a CONVERSATION between the student and the grader.  On the AP test, the student is supposed to wax eloquent for 10 minutes into a microphone (ie. a memorized speech - yes, the topics are available but must be prepped.)  The convolutions the College Board goes through to try to replicate normal class experiences come out in a weird format, that is not intuitive and doesn't resemble any class I've ever taken.

 

I don't know if this is a recent change (my college didn't accept them, so I didn't pay for any) or not.  Certainly the latest changes to AP tests (check out the threads on the new AP Bio test) have only made this worse, and therefore require even more test-prep.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I am trying to wrap my brain around this.  Is it harder to score well these days because the curve is driven higher because kids are prepping more which drives the curve up which.... you get the idea. :)

 

 

I'll be interested what other say, but I would say that the expectation now is that you must prep, whereas earlier it was not necessarily so.  

 

That said, I went to a top-rated high school 30+ years ago, and we did lots of prep.  AP English was a two-year course, and we did a timed essay topic from previous years every Friday in the last year.  And it was graded to the n-th degree.  And we made flash cards and had drills in class on the books, literary, terms, vocabulary, etc.  Same with the AP foreign language, science, and math.  Both math and English classes had PSAT/SAT review elements that were identified as such.  So everything was oriented towards the tests at that school.  Frankly it drove me crazy at times, but it paid off of course.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll be interested what other say, but I would say that the expectation now is that you must prep, whereas earlier it was not necessarily so.  

 

That said, I went to a top-rated high school 30+ years ago, and we did lots of prep.  AP English was a two-year course, and we did a timed essay topic from previous years every Friday in the last year.  And it was graded to the n-th degree.  And we made flash cards and had drills in class on the books, literary, terms, vocabulary, etc.  Same with the AP foreign language, science, and math.  Both math and English classes had PSAT/SAT review elements that were identified as such.  So everything was oriented towards the tests at that school.  Frankly it drove me crazy at times, but it paid off of course.

 

That's very interesting!  Your experience was so different from my experience.  I will be interested to hear from others.  I wonder if geography matters...  my high school was in Virginia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if part of the emphasis on test prep stems from differences in non AP courses.

When I took 8th grade US history we had massive tests with many short answer IDs and essay questions. (My favorite was the mimeographed sheet with 1. Describe the causes of the Civil War. The rest of the page was blank to provide writing space. )

English classes had tests that required knowledge of Greek mythology, Chaucer, literary forms etc. These were honors courses but not AP. my school offered no AP. I did take the AP history exam and score well.

So I wonder if some of the frq practice is because students are used to multiple choice questions and much more credit for homework and effort.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's very interesting!  Your experience was so different from my experience.  I will be interested to hear from others.  I wonder if geography matters...  my high school was in Virginia.

 

My public school was an outlier, trust me.  The only other people I knew from other high schools who did that much were at pricey prep schools.

 

Even our area now though, only the prep schools are offering full AP courses like I had and put PSAT/SAT prep right into the curriculum.  In the public schools the AP classes, if they offer them, aren't as focused on the actual exam as they are advanced work, and you have to pay for PSAT/SAT prep.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...