Posts Tagged ‘advanced placement tests’

More High School Students Taking AP Exams

Today’s high school students are smart, and they dream big! Over the last ten years, more and more students are taking advanced placement exams in a variety of different areas, and more of them are scoring a 3 or higher! For those who are not familiar with AP scoring, students can score between 0 and 5, with 3 being the score needed to count the class for college credit. Not a bad deal!

According to the infographic created by Teach.com, 18% of high school students who take this test score a 3 or higher, with Washington D.C. having the lowest average (6.6%) and Maryland having the highest (27.9%). The data also indicates that the majority of test takers are women (66%). It may be surprising to learn that these exams aren’t only in typical high school subjects such as chemistry and U.S. government. AP courses include what many consider to be electives–computer science, calculus, music theory, microeconomics, macroeconomics, statistics, and psychology, just to name a few. In addition to more students taking and “passing” these exams, the subjects offered for AP exams are becoming more plentiful, with Chinese, Japanese, studio art 2-D design portfolio, studio art 3-D design portfolio, and world history having been added in the past decade.

Not all students who are recommended to take an AP class actually take it. Possible explanations are concerns that the class may be too difficult, not enough time to dedicate to studying, or a lack of confidence that they can pass a college-level test. After all, students as young as fifteen and sixteen can begin taking AP classes. That’s a lot of work for a high school sophomore, but students may be surprised to learn some of the advantages to taking these tests.

What could taking an AP course in high school do for you? Well besides bragging rights, having a class count for college credit is very useful! It often means you don’t have to use your tuition money on a general course that everyone else has to take. It might mean that you have met a prerequisite that allows you to take a course you have more interest in! If you have taken many AP courses in high school and had them all count as college credit, you could actually start your second semester as a freshman as a first semester sophomore, which is a big deal when sophomores get to pick their classes first! Taking AP classes in high school will also better prepare you for your college career. When your fellow freshmen are struggling with their studies, you will have already learned the ropes. You’ll know how to handle your workload and how to take a college level exam before you even take your first steps on your college campus. Talk about a jump start to your degree!

The Rise of the AP:

The Rise of the AP

(Infographic via Teach.com and USC Rossier Online)

Rethinking Advanced Placement Classes for College

AOtestsThere’s a huge rush for college-bound students to sign up for AP classes in high school so they can accumulate early college credit after taking the college board AP exams.  To students, taking AP classes means they can take the AP test and pass out of intro classes in college to save time and save money in college.  But, the recent New York Time’s article points out, students aren’t necessarily getting the most out of these challenging college classes.   Often times high school teachers wind up teaching just for the AP test and pass over the importance of abstract and analytical thinking that is needed to succeed in college.

This teaching for the test trend, however, is about to change.   College Board will embark on a new direction for Advanced Placement that is anchored in a curriculum that focuses on what students need to be able to do with their knowledge, not just how to take a test:

As A.P. has proliferated, spreading to more than 30 subjects with 1.8 million students taking 3.2 million tests, the program has won praise for giving students an early chance at more challenging work. But many of the courses, particularly in the sciences and history, have also been criticized for overwhelming students with facts to memorize and then rushing through important topics. Students and educators alike say that biology, with 172,000 test takers this year, is one of the worst offenders.

A.P. teachers have long complained that lingering for an extra 10 or 15 minutes on a topic can be a zero-sum game, squeezing out something else that needs to be covered for the exam. PowerPoint lectures are the rule. The homework wears down many students. And studies show that most schools do the same canned laboratory exercises, providing little sense of the thrill of scientific discovery….

….Next month, the board, the nonprofit organization that owns the A.P. exams as well as the SAT, will release a wholesale revamping of A.P. biology as well as United States history — with 387,000 test takers the most popular A.P. subject. A preview of the changes shows that the board will slash the amount of material students need to know for the tests and provide, for the first time, a curriculum framework for what courses should look like. The goal is to clear students’ minds to focus on bigger concepts and stimulate more analytic thinking. In biology, a host of more creative, hands-on experiments are intended to help students think more like scientists.

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