I've just finished my third and final AP test during the course of my lifetime, and I'd like to reflect about my experiences with AP tests. First off, my school doesn't offer many AP tests, so three is actually a respectable number for anybody at my school. I've taken AP US History, AP Statistics, and now AP Calculus BC.
US History = 3
Statistics = 4
Calculus BC = ?
As you can see, I'm not one of those people that takes 15 AP tests and gets 5's on all of them. In fact, that 3 in history is fairly miraculous considering I'm terrible at history and fudged my way through all the essays, as well as the multiple choice.
But why is the title what it is? Why do AP tests laugh at me behind my back? I discovered today that every AP test I seem to take goes quite smoothly, right until the last question, which proceeds to kick me in the groin, punch me in the face and then run off with my kidney. Honestly, those of you who took stats and APUSH last year know what I'm talking about.
My first AP test ever was Statistics, and that was exciting. I blazed through the multiple choice without a problem. I went through the short answer with relative ease, but know that I have to have missed several small details (because that's what I do). Then I got to the last free response question, NUMBER 6, the really long one that is weighted heavier than the others. It was a monster of a problem, and introduced an entirely new concept to be analyzed, interpreted, and manipulated. It's hard to explain how hard it was, but I'll let the following details help explain:
- People online still complain about Number 6 to this day on forums.
- Teachers are warning their students about last year's problem.
- Average spread at my school for Stats scores is about 15 5's, 25ish 4's and a scattering of 3's and lower. Last year the distribution was 2 5's and 40 4's. That means that everybody that was on track to get a 5 was knocked down by that last question to a 4. It was the weakest showing in statistics scores at my school in years!
Needless to say, I'm still peaved about that question, because statistics was the one AP test that I was pretty much gauranteed to get a 5 in, and I got screwed.
How about US History? What happened there? Well, like I said, I'm not a big history fan, but I will say that I had a fairly decent grasp on everything from the time period of 1800 to 1945. I flip to the last essay which is 45 minutes long, the DBQ (document based question). Here was the topic:
Discuss the changing ideals of American womanhood between the American Revolution (1770’s) and the outbreak of the Civil War. What factors fostered the emergence of “republican motherhood” and the “cult of domesticity”? Assess the extent to which these ideals influenced the lives of women during this period. In your answer be sure to consider issues of race and class. Use the documents and your knowledge of the time period in constructing your response.
40 of us were in the library when we took this test and almost every single person either:
c) smacked their head on the table
Not only did our teacher tell us that women's rights were probably not going to be covered on the test, but these were women's rights that we learned/forgot during the 3rd week of school. THERE WASN'T A SNOWBALL'S CHANCE IN HELL THAT WE REMEMBERED ANY OF IT! Oh, and the prompt even gave us two pieces of jargon that we HAD to use, whether we knew what they meant or not. Lovely. Did I mention that the nearly all the documents were from the American Revolution and not the Civil War?
SO this year was calculus. Again, smoked the multiple choice and kind of waided through the short answer. In fact, it was a lot like statistics, and like statistics, the last question proceeded to bash my brains in. It was material that we "learned" last week and that nobody in the class understood. In fact, we were all joking before the test that it would be amazing if they just left all of those particular problems out. Turns out they didn't.
So here's my dilemma. I had no idea how to do the problem. . . at all. I kinda fudged my way through the first of four parts, but I wasn't even close to correct. The next three parts weren't even imaginably achievable, so I took it as an opportunity to be creative. There were four boxes in which to write the answers to the four parts. The first box had some math scribbled in it out of desperation to get at least 1/9 on the problem. The last three boxes were prime space for Answer Sheet Artwork. Here's what my answer sheet looked like when I turned it in. Oh, the boxes are in this order:
Yep, I drew a comic with stick figures. That question was a complete loss.
THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how I KNOW that AP tests laugh at me behind my back.