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Yo AP grader, Imma let you finish, but this is the best essay of all time. OF ALL TIME.
June 9, 2010 3:56 PM   Subscribe

England viewed the colonies as nothing more than a back-talking teenager that needed smacked. The Japanese were put in concentration camps, so we could concentrate on them. During this time, Lespians came out of their nests.

Each May thousands of high school students take Advanced Placement exams , for which they pay $56 each, in hopes of gaining college credit for their high school work. Those exams are graded by AP teachers and university faculty in June. These are some of the highlights.

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posted by katemonster (53 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Baby Boom made the population sore.

Oh dear.
posted by a small part of the world at 4:01 PM on June 9, 2010


Any way to see the "more bloopers" without a Facebook account?
posted by hippybear at 4:02 PM on June 9, 2010


After the Confederates bombed Fort Sumter, it was on like Donkey Kong.

Pretty much.
posted by Zalzidrax at 4:05 PM on June 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


"Being a woman was considered a disease, as if you could catch it if you were male."
Actually that's true. And still true to some extent.

More true stuff, just phrased oddly. I get so sick of reading the same words recycled over and over in the same ways and getting resistance to finding new ways of saying and doing things. it's kind of refreshing to hear stuff phrased differently for once.

- Slavery was like the crazy uncle in every family - everyone acknowledges the problem, but no one wants to confront it.
- *Just a couple of decades ago, women didn't have the right to vote.

As Mr. Miyagi once said, it is important to keep balance. Congress knew this when they admitted Maine and Missouri to the Union.

Progressive women were like ants: they worked in groups and got stuff done.
posted by amethysts at 4:07 PM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Japs bombed Pearl Harbor and were all like, 'We all that,' and we were all like 'Oh noes you didn't!'

Okay, this is priceless. Completely putting the historical into the modern vernacular.
posted by hippybear at 4:08 PM on June 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


- The biggest victory for Southerners before the Civil War was the Dred Scopes Trial.

If this was written by a Southerner, it speaks volumes. First, with proper vocal inflection, it would imply he/she feels the Civil War was a victory. Secondly, little regard for 2 major court cases that pretty much put the Southern mentality before the gavel.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 4:13 PM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Dear Jane!
We are having a great day here it is not too hot and maybe we'll get some rain for the tomatoes. How are things in Chicago? Well anyway, I saw this on my internet and thought of you (and your history decree dad and I paid for!!!!) and maybe it will give you a laugh.

love, mom (ps call meemaw Agnes!)
posted by boo_radley at 4:15 PM on June 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


At the time, the United States had the most advanced communication system in the world - Paul Revere.

Ha!
posted by brundlefly at 4:15 PM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I proctored the AP English Literature exam this year. I truly hope my students did better than this...
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:28 PM on June 9, 2010


One of the students I know who took a battery of AP tests this year had some time left over during one of them so he drew an elaborate, full-page picture of Teddy Roosevelt stabbing Andrew Jackson through the heart with an American flag pole on one of the directions pages in his booklet. I'm pretty sure it wasn't even for his US history test; it was either English or stats. So hopefully someone'll get a kick out of that one.
posted by lilac girl at 4:29 PM on June 9, 2010 [17 favorites]


lilac girl, I'm glad there's no chance of me seeing that drawing, as the reality could never live up to the way I'm picturing it.
posted by brundlefly at 4:33 PM on June 9, 2010


God. This reminds me when I worked security at an art museum, and one of the school field trips involved this exchange:

Student: "Why isn't the Egyptian art on the African art floor?"
Teacher: "Egypt's not in Africa!"

Another security guard (from Nigeria) guided the teacher to the map of Africa, to, uh, educate.
posted by yeloson at 4:36 PM on June 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


Flappers were women, but new and improved!

Well, duh.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:38 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, this is priceless. Completely putting the historical into the modern vernacular.

btdt
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 4:39 PM on June 9, 2010


Teddy Roosevelt stabbing Andrew Jackson through the heart

IF ONLY
posted by jtron at 4:40 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


As Mr. Miyagi once said, it is important to keep balance. Congress knew this when they admitted Maine and Missouri to the Union.

I have no problem with this statement.
posted by nestor_makhno at 4:40 PM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


"England viewed the colonies as nothing more than a back-talking teenager that needed smacked." & "The Misery Compromise..."

Works for me.
posted by Uncle Chaos at 4:46 PM on June 9, 2010


Now women had full equality. But was that REALLY so grand? Let's discuss...

Here is where it had me.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 4:46 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


That Kanye melt down quote still makes me laugh.
posted by oddman at 4:46 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perry Bible Fellowship: ahead of its time.
posted by artlung at 4:52 PM on June 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Lol. Kids have the darndest mediocre humor writing attributed to them.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:02 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hitler was a total nazi!
posted by doublehappy at 5:11 PM on June 9, 2010


I think all these kids went on to sit in my Intro to American Government classes.

The end of the course is all civil rights and liberties, so the last test has a bunch of court cases to remember and identify. I figured I'd make their lives a little easier and throw in some obviously false answers, cutting down their real choices from 4 to 3.

Nope. I've had 10-15% of the class tell me that Kramer v. Kramer, Kal-El v. Zod, Butler v. O'Hara, and Zed v. Zardoz were all important Supreme Court cases dealing with civil rights and liberties.

I've had nontrivial numbers of students tell me that an amicus brief is cut high on the hips.

And I've had 10-15% of a class tell me that the process that's actually known as "senatorial courtesy" is called "the Eiger Sanction."

At this point I take solace that nobody, yet, has told me on an exam that we select federal judges using gladiatorial combat.

*looks at test*

Oh yeah, also Bulls v. Ditka and Spencer v. Tracy. I may also have had students tell me that the things called "article 1 courts" or "legislative courts" are actually "Courts of Cromulence."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:32 PM on June 9, 2010 [17 favorites]


Anyway none of this compares to the piece of paper I found on the floor of my highschool: Sahara is a dessert ain't no water and it hot
I think of it every time the weather gets hot. "Man, ain't no water and it hot.." That scrap of paper became one of my friends-in-my-head.
posted by amethysts at 5:47 PM on June 9, 2010 [36 favorites]


...and he was thus an Unmemorable King, who died of surfeit.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:49 PM on June 9, 2010


I think all these kids went on to sit in my Intro to American Government classes.

And the ones that didn't get into that class came to New Zealand to take political science. We had a half hour 'class discussion; with our American politics lecturer about the number of states in the U.S. Even after he showed us evidence from authoritative sources, there were kids that were adamant that there were 52 because 'there's always been 52, why would it change?'
posted by doublehappy at 5:50 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hi I'm Troy McClure. You may know me from such films as...
posted by special-k at 5:53 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


- African-Americans were forced into slavery, even after slavery was abolished. This was very frustrating.

I'd give this answer full credit.

Really, though. You're not at all encouraged to take these tests seriously:
- Many colleges give mediocre credit for them, if any
- They don't determine your grade in the course

- More importantly, they're often jokes. Example: AP Government when I was a senior a few years ago:
-- For the short answer, you could answer in bullet point
-- You could write as many WRONG responses as you want. As long as the correct one is also there, you can get full credit.
-- Because of the first two, you finish with an hour left. And can't leave. So you just sit there and draw and write ridiculous things.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:56 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, I see the original version of this post that I snarked up was deleted.

Let me repeat my snark. Or "re-snark."

This is what happens when your curriculum is predicated on rote memorization of facts and dates.

Also, this is still wicked funny.</small.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:58 PM on June 9, 2010


preparing for the AP tests is such hell in some schools that i can see blowing off some steam in the answers. hell, on my french AP test i wrote quite a few jokes.
posted by nadawi at 6:27 PM on June 9, 2010


Yeah, Solon and Thanks gets to part of the reason why these are so humorous : scoring comes ENTIRELY from the use of the documents and the validity of the argument. Grammar, style, and so forth are in no way part of the assessment.
posted by absalom at 7:17 PM on June 9, 2010



Also, some of these I think are phenomenal and spot on. If my students coming up this year present me with such insights, I'll be tickled pink. And, I bet taken in context, a few of these essays are quite insightful. A list, with some repeats from above:


England viewed the colonies as nothing more than a back-talking teenager that needed smacked.

Slavery was like the crazy uncle in every family - everyone acknowledges the problem, but no one wants to confront it.

Bleeding Kansas was like the JV game before the Civil War.

Many slaves were black.

In the 20s, women were smoking, drinking, and dressing more sketchedly.

The main motivational character for women was Rosie the Riveter. She was a strong woman with biceps. She would always flex her arm but she wore makeup. Her message was that she was pretty but talented as well. She was outstanding.


And some of the ones that seem totally bizarre might even get credit, since I know what they're *trying* to say. And, considering the kid is writing three of these things under some severe time pressures, even things like "Uncle Tom's Cabinet" and the "Misery Compromise" could be honest mistakes due to haste, learning disability, or even terrible, terrible writing and spelling skills (Not dealbreakers by any means for an AP Test). If we had full essays, it'd be a lot easier to tell, but we'll never know - we get these blurbs context free so that we may easily deride high school students. Awesome!

Additionally, from personal experience, I know many AP programs are instituted, in urban schools, at any rate, completely top down. By which I mean, any halfway decent student is shoveled into an AP class, if they want to or not, without any pre-AP classes or, hell, fundamental study skills. Test fees are paid by title one, and it's not like you'll be allowed to opt out even if you want to, so what if you fuck it up badly? It's not part of your grade, after all. Plus, a lot of AP Classes are AP in name only, but they still have to take the test. I've taught an AP class where I literally got under 30 minutes per day with the students. I mean, principals and administrators insist AP classes be taught, because otherwise it looks bad, so they're willing to throw the AP label on as much stuff as possible. The College Board is trying to crack down on that sort of thing - low rigor AP classes - though clearly with lukewarm success.
posted by absalom at 7:36 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh crap, I thought this would be amusing, but it's horrid. But that's only because I am a scorer, I see dozens of different exams like this throughout the year. Note that I said scorer, not grader, this is not grading. But I can't get into the specifics of scoring, it's part of the huge amount of material that I deal with that's covered under an nondisclosure agreement. As is ALL that stuff on the bloopers page. And that's why these blooper pages kind of piss me off. It is highly unprofessional to leak quotes from student exams, they are considered secured materials and not a word of it is supposed to leave the grading room. And yet, they took notes and published excerpts of these secured materials in a way deliberately intended to humiliate these poor hapless students. This is considered a pretty severe breach of security. If it was widely known that student exams could be published and subjected to ridicule, it could seriously affect the students taking the exams.

Anyway, I wish I could say more but if I did, I could get sued. At least in my end of the business, they DO patrol the net and take action against NDA violators. And that's a shame, for two reasons. First, that Dartblog article is total crap. It's not quite a complete fabrication, but that is just not how AP exams are scored. And the second reason I wish I could say more, is that my editor has been pushing me to publish an article about the exam scoring industry. Alas, if I did, I'd never work again.. anywhere. I might already have said too much.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:52 PM on June 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't find these funny and here's why:

I went to a rather affluent high school where many took AP exams to pad their resumes for college, but didn't actually give a shit about learning the material. It became a race to write, or say you wrote, the most hilariously inappropriate thing in your AP exam booklet to prove how cool you were for not giving a shit at the end of the year. Particularly senior year. Of course these types of people had managed to infest my university experience as well.

Some people are autodidacts. I am not, but I work my ass off to find and follow the people that can teach me. If I ruled the metaphysical universe, the people who do this intentionally -- after having literally been told all of the answers over the course of a year by a more than capable teaching staff -- would burn in the deepest levels of the inferno. And, just to be clear, it's not sour grapes about my expending the effort. I may have forgotten 99% of it, but I was on the fucking ball on the subject matter at the time and the mental exercise of it has enriched my ability to become more of a self-teacher.

I grant that some of these folks may just be blowing off steam after fucking up the preparation. That doesn't bother me as much. And I'd much, much rather be with people that never got the chance to take an AP test but who value learning about their world than the assholes I've described.
posted by tastydonuts at 8:13 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


there were kids that were adamant that there were 52 because 'there's always been 52, why would it change?'

I've had this discussion with my aunt before. She was taught (as were my parents) that there were 52 states, so it's a fact that she has passed on to her elementary school kids in her classes for years. Until, that is, we had a discussion about it and she found out that there were really 50.
posted by gemmy at 9:02 PM on June 9, 2010


Ugh, bloopers. I unfortunately was guilty of something like this.

I took IB in high school and entered college with a lot of credit. I took the AP English Language test my senior year, after I was already out of school and 2 weeks before I graduated...the school paid for all the fees, but if you signed up and didn't show up, you had to pay for it yourself. Unfortunately, I found out the night before I took the Lang test that it didn't matter WHAT I scored, I already had any credit that I could have possibly gotten. I tried my hardest to get out of it but didn't have the money to pay for the test...so I decided to just take it. I finished the multiple choice and wrote 2 of the essays (what I'd determined I would need to do to pass) and wrote an outline for my last essay...but I absolutely could not bring myself to write another word about Wuthering Heights, and we weren't supposed to leave before a certain time had passed (school rules, not AP). Instead, I drew labeled pictures of the houses in Wuthering Heights and transcribed part of Kate Bush's song. I passed with a 3. The girl next to me, who struggled all the way through the test but wrote all of the essays and answered all of the questions, and really really wanted the credit, failed with a 2.

I felt so incredibly guilty about basically wasting part of my test and goofing off when other people around me were trying hard and undoubtedly saw my messing around that I've NEVER done anything like that on a test or assignment, not even stupid things like activities we have to do during presentations. (But I'm still proud of that house...)
posted by kro at 9:24 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe: The end of the course is all civil rights and liberties, so the last test has a bunch of court cases to remember and identify. I figured I'd make their lives a little easier and throw in some obviously false answers, cutting down their real choices from 4 to 3. . . I've had 10-15% of the class tell me that Kramer v. Kramer, Kal-El v. Zod, Butler v. O'Hara, and Zed v. Zardoz were all important Supreme Court cases dealing with civil rights and liberties. . . And I've had 10-15% of a class tell me that the process that's actually known as "senatorial courtesy" is called "the Eiger Sanction." . . . Oh yeah, also Bulls v. Ditka and Spencer v. Tracy.

So we find particular resentment in that today's students don't get your "obviously false answers": in other words, we chortle that these students don't know what we know. How dare these complete fucking ninnies not know references to 1970's movies?

I'd say any teacher who nurses resentment over students being born twenty years too late to get "obviously false" cultural references is already nursing resentment toward students in the first place. Which is why I hate these types of so-called student "bloopers": they bespeak contempt and loathing on the part of teachers toward those they're ostensibly trying to educate.

I do it myself, on occasion, and I feel stupid and dirty after I do it. Yeah, the students in my classes don't know everything. There's a lot they don't know. That's why they're in school. It's not a reason to belittle them, and I'd feel like a particularly crappy educator if I designed tests that purposely helped me feel antagonistic toward the students I work with.
posted by vitia at 9:33 PM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


And yet, they took notes and published excerpts of these secured materials in a way deliberately intended to humiliate these poor hapless students.

It's also entirely possible that they're entirely made up.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:49 PM on June 9, 2010


So we find particular resentment in that today's students don't get your "obviously false answers"

Thanks for your projection, vitia.

As it happens, when I noticed that more than a very few people were actually choosing those answers, I thought hard about dropping those responses.

I've left them on not because they make me chortle or to prove what fucking ninnies they are, but because I think they can serve as useful distractors to particularly bad refuse-to-do-any-work students. They might never have heard of Lemon or Mergens, but somewhere back in their head they know they've heard about Kramer v Kramer or something about Spencer and Tracy... Admittedly, ones like Zed v Zardoz less so.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:03 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


ROU, sorry; I came on a little strong. Look, our students aren't from our generation, and we shouldn't expect them to be, and we shouldn't punish them for not recognizing things *we* think we would certainly recognize. That's an adversarial mindset, and it's the same thing that crappy teachers do when they choose to publicly ridicule the people they're evaluating.

(I'll disagree with you over the virtues of multiple-choice tests versus asking students to apply concepts in other forms of evaluation and assessment, but that's a whole other derail.)

My point is that going after a student, even only in your mind, for not getting the Kramer vs. Kramer reference is not a "useful distractor": it's a way to stack up points in your head against somebody who has no reason to have such information. It's exactly what these "teacher bloopers" do, despite betsypage's protestations to the contrary: show antagonism toward our students.

Sure, my students say and write dumb stuff, and they don't know some of the stuff I know. Again: that's a big part of the reason they're in class. I'd like to think I'm not going to be a jerk toward them because of that.
posted by vitia at 10:42 PM on June 9, 2010


In further news, unqualified people are found in positions that they are not qualified for! Film at 11.
posted by drfu at 1:11 AM on June 10, 2010


I wrote on my tenth grade final that Karl Marx was the least funny of the Marx Brothers. I got an A.
posted by gc at 2:53 AM on June 10, 2010


(I'll disagree with you over the virtues of multiple-choice tests versus asking students to apply concepts in other forms of evaluation and assessment, but that's a whole other derail.)

No, you won't. I just can't grade 300 essay exams by hand in any reasonable time frame.

My point is that going after a student, even only in your mind, for not getting the Kramer vs. Kramer reference is not a "useful distractor": it's a way to stack up points in your head against somebody who has no reason to have such information.

But it does seem to serve as a distractor, in that the few times I've analyzed it it seemed clear that the worst-performing students were overwhelmingly the ones choosing that answer, making it less likely that they would choose the correct answer randomly.

And, frankly, they do have a reason to know it: it would be the only response for that question that never appeared in the textbook and was never once mentioned in class. So at the worst, a moderately diligent student would see the correct answer, two other responses they had seen in connection to the course, and another response that they had never seen before in their life.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:15 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read these and laughed. On the outside.
posted by tommasz at 5:42 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm about five years older than today's HS students, but I've heard of but don't know a thing about Kramer vs. Kramer. If I were taking a civil rights test right now, it wouldn't be a matter of 3 things I'd heard of and 1 I hadn't heard of: it would probably be four things I kinda knew something about. While I'd like to think that some gut instinct would hold me back from guessing K vs. K, I couldn't guarantee it.
posted by dd42 at 6:34 AM on June 10, 2010




If I were taking a civil rights test right now, it wouldn't be a matter of 3 things I'd heard of and 1 I hadn't heard of: it would probably be four things I kinda knew something about.

...but if you were taking the class but hadn't done any of the work, you'd see three things you didn't recognize from anywhere and one thing you kinda knew something about. And you might pick that instead of guessing, which is the point of leaving it on.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:24 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


And again that's your antagonistic rationale for leaving it on: it's a "Gotcha!" for students. If you can't imagine any measure of assessment between an essay and a multiple-choice test, if you're teaching about "civil rights and liberties" and testing students on names of court cases instead of, oh, say, concepts (here's an outcomes question: which should they remember more, concepts or names and dates?), and if you're putting "Gotcha!" questions on tests to punish students, then I'd really hope you either think about why you're teaching or else hurry up and retire. It pisses me off when I have to clean up after the messes of teachers who have no concept of pedagogy. Luckily, most students are smart enough to recover.
posted by vitia at 9:27 AM on June 10, 2010


And again that's your antagonistic rationale for leaving it on: it's a "Gotcha!" for students.

It's a discriminator between medium-performance students and low-performance students. Or between low-performance and very-low-performance, I suppose.

This is really basic item-response theory. You want some items that discriminate between medium and high performance, and others that discriminate between low and medium performance, and so on. IE, you want some questions to have responses that should attract low performance students but not distract better-performing students.

If you can't imagine any measure of assessment between an essay and a multiple-choice test

This insult is particularly pointless since I already agreed that using multiple choice exams is inferior. But with 300 students, the only exams I can return in a reasonable time frame are multiple-choice or similarly blunt instruments. To be sure, there are lots of things between full essays and multiple choice. But really any more than minimal written responses would take too long to grade.

testing students on names of court cases instead of, oh, say, concepts

Oh, come on. You cannot possibly believe that the items I indicated earlier constitute the entirety of the exam in question.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2010


I just can't grade 300 essay exams by hand in any reasonable time frame.

Well maybe you can't. But any professional scorer can score an essay quite rapidly. Due to NDA again, I can't say much, but I can easily score 300 essays in one 8-hour day shift, and my scores would be accurate. I remember once, I scored 750 essays per hour, but that was an unusually simple exam.

I really wish I could say more, because you guys are all debating things that really have nothing to do with testing and how it is actually performed. And the links in this post are really misleading too. These bloopers are like picking at little scraps of info with no context. But a scorer sees so thousands of these essays, we start to get the big picture about how large cross-sections of kids think, we mentally construct an overall context within which we judge the essays. Well now I am saying enough to get sued for violating my NDA.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:09 AM on June 10, 2010


charlie don't surf: "Well now I am saying enough to get sued for violating my NDA."

"I think about how kids think in general" is an NDA violation?
posted by boo_radley at 12:36 AM on June 11, 2010


charlie don't surf, I've taken classes in measurement and testing for various levels of comprehension rather than just memorization of facts, etc. And I'm really irritated by the way some of these essays are graded, so maybe I should bring that up with you, seeing as how you can score so many in such a short time (which I really don't think is anything you should be bragging about, honestly).

Right now, the essays on tests that get scored the highest are the ones with the highest word count. That is to say that the longer the essay, the better the grade (see the MIT study on this Wikipedia entry). The underlying principle seems to be that the wordier the essay, the more the student understands the concept being tested.

This, frankly, pisses me off. I want my kids to be able to state their case with factual data to back it up, in as concise as manner as possible. I don't want kids who write long, rambling, factually inaccurate or poorly supported arguments to score higher because they filled up more pages.
posted by misha at 9:44 AM on June 11, 2010


I can't get into specifics again, but I suppose I can tell you what we don't do. We do not score by word count.

I read your link to the MIT study. There is only a summary and no detailed info, but I will conclude the inverse, that high scoring essays tend to be written by smart kids that can write fluently and at length.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:41 PM on June 11, 2010


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