The new AP sounds like a good step

Last month the New York Times published a feature on the changes coming to Advanced Placement courses. 1

I finally got around to reading it and found it pretty interesting. They mention the following change, among others, for the biology course and exam:

College Board officials say the new labs should help students learn how to frame scientific questions and assemble data, and the exam will measure how well they can apply those skills…The board plans to cut the number of multiple-choice questions nearly in half on the new test, to 55. It will add five questions based on math calculations, and it will more than double the number of free-response questions, to nine.

It is not a perfect exam but it sounds like a good step forward in many ways.

In the AP U.S. History course I took during my Junior year we had to copy definitions for all the glossary terms to index cards that counted as a significant part of our grade. These index cards then made up a good chunk of the test material for class and, theoretically, the AP exam.

Ultimately I could rattle off dates and dictionary like definitions without really understanding the greater context and relevancy of events. It was nothing like the American History course I took Freshman year in college.

If cutting the number of multiple-choice questions in half means fewer students have to mindlessly re-copy glossary definitions then that’s progress. 2

Notes:

  1. H/T to Lauren.
  2. Until we have our perfect system that is. šŸ™‚