Darlington School: Feeling Uncertain About the AP Exams? You're Not Alone
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Feeling Uncertain About the AP Exams? You’re Not Alone

Matt Peer | April 1, 2020 | 359 views

In 36 hours the College Board will be announcing details on the new format for the 2020 Advanced Placement exams and how they will be administered. With so much uncertainty in our daily lives, as we navigate the pandemic as a global community and distance learning as a school community, I wanted to share thoughts and tips from several of our master AP teachers.  

I believe Ms. Rundles says it best, “This is all new territory for all of us and we are all learning as we go including the College Board. I advise everyone to take it one day at a time and do what they can each day to be in a better position. We don't know what this will look like in the end which makes us all anxious but we will be fine.”

What advice do you have for your students to help them prepare for this new format?

  • Remember when you are writing an essay you have control of the direction of the answer. Repetition will only make you more confident. Keep reading feedback given by your teachers and ask lots of questions for clarification. Use your live office hours!
  • I imagine that most of my students are feeling a sense of relief that the exam will not cover as much information and will not include some of the hardest sections that a traditional exam might. However, it is important not to get complacent. Since the exam has been streamlined, it is likely that the questions will be even more advanced and the grading more rigorous.
  • My students have spent the entire year preparing for this skills-based exam. Take a deep breath, practice a little more, and get ready to kick some College Board booty! 
  • We're all in the same boat and we're all going through these changes for the first time, nobody is exempt. Be patient, we still have plenty of time to adapt and practice.
  • For my students specifically, I am telling them to just have a strong knowledge of their psychological terminology. I am encouraging them to get on quizlet a lot. I am also reminding them that they are already very well prepared and that if there are some terms on the FRQ that they don't know, it is likely most kids across the country are not going to know those terms either.
  • Be disciplined. Every day should consist of some sleep, some exercise and a little preparation for your exam. If you can do this then you will be healthy, alert and ready and are bound to do well!

As a  teacher how does the new exam format make you feel? 

  • I think my students are more confident with writing essays than the ambiguity of the multiple-choice questions, so I feel confident about the new format.
  • On the surface, the AP World Modern exam seems like it is going to be much easier. For example: 45 minutes vs. over 3 hours and free-response which rules out the multiple-choice section. However, we don't have enough information to fully prepare the students. Questions include what kind of free-response question is it going to be and what is going to be the date. Hopefully, these questions will be answered soon. On a personal note, I'm sad that we've cut off the content of the class just as we're getting to the 20th century which is most of my students' favorite part of World History.
  • In some ways, the new exam format makes me feel great! No multiple choice!! I've always felt that the multiple-choice portion of the AP Lit exam forces students to accept College Board's interpretations of literature while the free response questions allow the students to share their interpretations.
  • I am excited to see what the College Board decides to use and to see if it will be a departure from the normal FRQs that we've worked on all year. There seems to be a little more pressure now but I think we have plenty of time to adapt based on the updates we receive later this week.
  • I don't like it. I spend much of the year tailoring my class assessments to mimic the AP exam, which is typically 2/3 multiple choice. My students always comment on how easy the MC is on the AP exam compared to what they have experienced throughout the year. With it being FRQ only, I feel like it is severely limiting the amount of knowledge they will be able to display.
  • I think that it is great that the College Board is adapting to the situation and has devised a method for our students to demonstrate what they know. 

How is the work you are doing through distance learning preparing your students for the May exam?

  • We are working on the format of the essays extensively and I am connecting students with the online lessons provided by College Board.
  • We are using the Forum option on the web site to review materials and we are using a writing program called turnitin.com to submit our essays. For homework, we will be reviewing for the rest of the year.
  • We will be practicing writing free-response questions while also honing our close reading skills. We'll be reading, writing, and analyzing as well as watching some of the AP video review sessions.
  • To be honest, we haven't changed much yet. During the first semester, I saw a trend of students missing for a variety of different reasons - college visits, academic and athletic trips, appointments, etc. Being a "college level" course, I decided to create and give students access to our lesson plan (plan del día) each day, so that they are accountable and be able to complete virtually whether they were in class or at home. We are using the same resources and following the same routine, which I think is comforting.
  • I schedule my class to start reviewing after Spring break. The only difference is that I am switching my review assessments from MC to FRQ. I am going to be working hard over the next month making sure my kids are exceptionally strong in being able to write their FRQ's. They are going to be doing a lot of writing.

Darlington is confident that you will be prepared to find success on the exams in May. Listen to the great advice from your favorite AP Government teacher and Dean of Mean, “every other student in this nation is in the exact same boat you are in and that ultimately, the grade you make on this AP exam is not, and was never (even before Covid-19) as important as the experience they had in the classroom and the knowledge that they will take with them.”

 For the latest information from the College Board please visit their website: AP Updates for Schools Impacted by Coronavirus.