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AP Exam Prep

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Do you find your kids need to take 2? 4? or more weeks to intensively prepare for these exams? Or do you get a test prep book and have them work on it for shorter bursts beginning mid-year? Do some of the on-line classes build in the test prep well enough that you don't have to set aside a chunk of time in the weeks leading up to the exam for test prep?


My dd is going to be taking a couple of PA Homeschoolers classes next year and may also do CS through EdEx. I'm trying to figure out what is reasonable with her schedule.

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This is our first year. Dd is taking three classes through PA Homeschoolers and all three have set aside at least two weeks for review. She is doing a great deal of review on her own because she wants to do very well and doesn't know what to expect. Not sure if it's overkill, but it's been nice for her to focus on review and not much other class work.

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I think its a good idea to know at the outset what the structure of the exam is.  YMMV depending on the specific online course.  My DS did not feel confident at all in his essay writing skills, especially when timed, so he knew from the beginning that he needed a lot of work to prepare for the essay portion of the AP World History exam.  The PAHS course did not include enough essay practice for him, so he ended up writing several additional essays (which his instructor graciously reviewed for him).  I think he also felt the need to take additional practice tests.  On the other hand, AP Chem through PAHS has needed NO additional prep work beyond what has been assigned (in fact he felt there were more practice tests than needed.)  He has really appreciated the fact that the class alone has prepared him for the exam, with no additional work on his part.

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I do not have experience witn PAHS classes. My older kids took many brick-and-mortar AP classes. I have designed many courses for dd, and she is taking AP Lang online with Blue Tent.


I have found that the best preparation is to integrate the various free-response questions (plus DBQs for history, though I haven't done any history with dd) throughout the year. I like to match up the released FRQs with the course material, either by chapters or by chunks. At the beginning dd answers the FRQs orally and we go over the scoring guidelines. She'll then write one while sitting with me, progress to writing one as an assignment, and to writing one or two during a test.


Most AP classes lend themselves to this arrangement. The big exception i've found so far is Psych---almost every FRQ draws from multiple topics across the coursework (senssation plus learning plus abnormal and treatment, for example).


Check with your student to see if the online classes include FRQ writing. Self-grading from the rubric is good, but grading should also come from the teacher. You'd want to have your student practice with the released FRQ topics from collegeboard if there isn't enough.


The FRQs in test prep books are not worth the time spent on them. Go directly to the real FRQs (google AP blahblahblah FRQ and you'll be pointed to the teacher side of college board with all the old FRQs, grading rubrics and explanations, and actual student examples).

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When mine self-studied for AP Cal BC, Chem, Physics Cs, US Gov and Politics, and Euro History (both ineffective history online classes), my main job was to:

1. Get the right textbooks.

2. Check the topics (I used both College Board Website and Princeton Review).

3. Gather practice tests for both MCQs and FRQs (College Board has very good released exams, I buy some and googled for others, some teachers also post very helpful practice questions with keys).


When DC finished one topic, the understanding was immediately tested with topical Princeton Review Qs, MCQs, and FRQs. 

Any problem with a topic, I googled for more resources to clarify it.

We usually finished all the topics about 1 month ahead of the actual AP Exams. Then, DC reviewed and took timed and un-timed practices.


With average to good online classes (AP CS & AP Bio), I had to supplement by searching for more practice Qs.

With excellent online classes (PAHS Mrs Green's AP Lit & Mrs Richman's APUSH), I could relax and not do anything.




ETA: labs are separate issues.

Edited by JoanHomeEd
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