AP prep pressure


Photo contributed by Samuel Hanely

AP Language students take a mock exam. Because AP exams are approaching, many AP teachers are having their students prepare for the exam by studying and giving mock exams.

Rebecca Wright, Reporter

To AP environmental science teacher Rachel Pearce, giving AP mock exams before the real exam benefits her students because it reflects the full workload of the AP exam, while serving as a way for students to weed out what they need to review. She believes that the mock exams ultimately result in higher AP test scores.

“I think it is a phenomenal way to practice and to know how to focus on your studies,” Pearce said.

She thinks that students should prepare for the mock exam just as they would prepare for the mock exam because the more students prepare for the mock exam so that they can transfer what they had studied to the AP exam and also have a better understanding of what the college board will be expecting. She thinks that after studying and taking the mock, they can then look and see where they struggled so they can work on those areas in preparation for the real exam.

Pearce also thinks that students need the experience of taking the full length test to understand the the amount of questions they will have as well as an understanding of the time allotted for each section. To her, she feels that the mock is more centered around practicing the test taking skills rather than just reviewing that material.

“Up to (the mock exam) in my class (my students have) never had to take 100 multiple choice questions or 4 free response questions all at once,” Pearce said. “So for them to experience that at least once before going into the actual exam helps.”

Pearce prepares her students for the test all year long. Each chapter test she gives has AP style questions, but the purpose of the mock is to give those style of questions in the same amount of time they will have during the AP exam. Pearce says her mock exam is the most recent version of the past AP exams available to her. This way the students can practice with questions that are the most similar to the ones that will be on the test.

When seeing the benefits of AP mock exams, Pearce is not alone.  Another teacher who has seen benefits is AP language teacher Dawn Fowerbaugh. She has seen a rise in AP scores since having started administering the mock exams to her students. Since she began giving out mock exams, Fowerbaugh has seen the average AP score of her students rise and she plans to continue administering the mock exams to further increase the scores. She likes the intensity of the mock exams because they mimic the intensity AP test.

“Mock exams mimic the rigor of the tests,” Fowerbaugh said.

Fowerbaugh has a detailed spreadsheet of the correlation between student mock exam scores and AP scores. She thinks that it is not only important to predict how she her students are going to score, but to also have them predict their scores themselves. On March 9, Fowerbaugh, along with another AP language teacher, Samuel Hanley, attended a conference regarding the AP exam. There they had heard from speakers who had been grading AP exams for years. This gave Fowerbaugh a better understanding of what the college board was expecting.

Like Pearce, Fowerbaugh thinks that the mock exams serve the purpose of helping students to know what is expected of them on the AP exam. She thinks that the feeling of sitting down and taking the test, even if it’s only a mock exam, is very beneficial. She said that in the past she has had students complain to her about hand cramps during a mock exam, who hadn’t until then understood how much writing was required of them. She described the mock exams as a “fake experience of having to write with stamina.”

“(The AP test is) a test of brains, but it’s also a test of endurance,” Fowerbaugh said.

However teachers aren’t the only ones who have an appreciation for the mock exams Junior Becca Hiller is one student who has had a lot of experience with mocks . Last year, Hiller had just one AP test and mock exam for AP U.S. history. Now this year, Hiller is enrolled in five AP courses and will take all five exams.

For Hiller, she likes the mock exams because they give her a better idea of what to expect for all the different tests she will take. Each exam is unique, and the mock exams help Hiller to better remember the requirements for each test.

“If you’ve taken the (AP) test already, even if it’s a mock exam and not even an official test, it helps you calm down because you know how it goes if you’ve done it before,” Hiller said.

Junior John Gunderson is another student that thinks the mock exams have benefited him. He thinks that the mock exams have helped him to receive higher scores on AP tests in the past.

Similar to Hiller, Gunderson thinks that the mock exams give students a good idea of what the college board’s expectations are. He also says that because of this, the mock exams shouldn’t be the primary means of study for the real test. Instead, they should be used to help you learn how to take the test.

“If you do the (mock exam) before actually taking (the AP exam), then you have some degree of what to expect,” Gunderson said.