Post AP Exam Thoughts

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.

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8 thoughts on “Post AP Exam Thoughts

  1. My students thought the Euro test was tough too. what is up with the E. European questions. I am sure your students did well. They always do.

  2. Our district shut down last week due to a “probable” case of Swine flu at one of the elementary schools. As a result my Euros will be taking their test on the late date May 21st. They get a few more days to review. However, my AP World History got shortchanged five days of in-class review time for this week’s test. Oh well, we’ll see how it goes.

  3. Carson,

    Do you think that AP Euro exam was much harder this year or your Euro students were just less prepared than your APUSH students?

  4. Dave: This is good news for youd Euro. I prefer that my students not miss the exam. But in the end, both exams measure the same skill and content set.

    Dillon: Well, after asking a few more students about the Euro exam, I have concluded that the difficulty of the exam depended on the student. One student told me it was a joke it was so easy.
    For the most part, I called the essays on the APUSH exam. They were easier than the Euro questions — which in the end, were not that bad.

  5. Congrats on another year, sounds like you’re really wrapping things up early. I’m going to my first AP Training this summer, I think, if my class makes. I’ll know in the next week or two for sure. What I truly worry about is “stimulating” my students and preparing them for the exam. How much do you stick to the provided texts for your class? Any tips for a newbie teacher?

    Secondly, you’re preparing for a conference this summer. Are you presenting? If so, what is your presentation subject/topic?

    Just now catching up. . . .forgive my delays in commenting.

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