Both my AP European and AP US History classes took the Advanced Placement National Exam on Friday. Traditionally speaking, the AP US History exam has proven to be a far more difficult exam for my students over the past nine years of teaching. That was not the case this year. European history students thought the exam was a monster, whereas U.S. history students felt pretty good about the exam and their preparation.
AP history exams require students to answer 80 complex multiple choice questions in a span of 55 minutes; they have to write a total of three highly organized essays showcasing their ability to construct a well developed thesis that is categorically supported by relevant facts. Of the three essays, one is a document based question (DBQ). A student has 60 minutes to study, analyze, evaluate, and categorize 10 – 12 primary documents in a constructive manner that answers the primary source question. If a student achieves a score of 3 (out of 5) or better, he or she depending on the college will earn college credit. AP courses by nature are very demanding. Most top students take up to 4 or 5 AP courses per academic year. Furthermore, those who teach these courses are usually the very best. I like teaching AP because I prefer to work with the brightest students. The best students find new ways to challenge me every class. Some students take AP for the intellectual stimulation it provides; others take it because they know it will increase their chances of being admitted into a good college. Ultimately, a student who takes AP courses are:
- better prepared academically for college
- more likely to choose a challenging major
- likely to complete more college work
- likely to perform significantly better than students who did not take AP courses
- twice as likely to attend some form of graduate studies
Regardless of how my students did, I know they are prepared to handle upper-level courses on a college campus. My students have had a great deal of success over the years; I believe much of that has to do with each student’s work ethic and love for learning.
With three weeks or less of class left, I will not see my AP students again. This means I will focus much of my attention on completing my one section of World History and preparing for a summer conference. I also hope to make ground on a book I am working on with Phil, who just published his first book Holy Mavricks. This means my week is very open; I teach one course today, Wednesday, and Friday. Thus I will have Tuesday and Thursday open to get a few projects done, such as my revamped AP skill review for our history department. You can see my typical Spring Hours 2009 at my webpage. Yes, there is a contrast for the next few weeks.