"We ask that students not share AP Exam content online."
July 13, 2019 3:05 PM   Subscribe

 
I know that I'm starting to get old because my first reaction to this is "nothing involving memes is news"

Good luck to all those kids on their exams!
posted by signsofrain at 3:17 PM on July 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Do folks think that AP exams have gotten harder in the past decade or so? I barely remember mind and did no real prep except homework. I got college credit, so that must have been sufficient. (Admittedly, I knew I'd never get AP credit for chemistry, so I didn't sign up for that one.) But as much as I'd like to believe that this was because of natural intelligence, I assume that like everything else it was just easier in the nineties.
posted by Frowner at 3:21 PM on July 13, 2019


My first reaction was "the author doesn't know the difference between 'waver' and 'waiver'."
posted by queensissy at 3:26 PM on July 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


In the year 2099, two rival factions vie for power: The Brainiacs and The Shitposters. Central Control assigns you a faction ID after evaluating your post-exam memes.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:27 PM on July 13, 2019 [10 favorites]


I don't know if the test itself has changed, but I work at a university, and we've made it harder to get credit. Ten years ago, you could get credit for 3s on most exams, and now you need at least a 4. There are a few for which we only give credit for 5s.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:37 PM on July 13, 2019 [8 favorites]


That Louis XVI meme post in the article was pretty funny. I wonder if they've done one about the Treaty of Westphalia?
posted by mogget at 3:48 PM on July 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Spoiler: The shiposters always win, because they are infinite, and their content requires so little effort.
posted by glonous keming at 4:00 PM on July 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


I don't know if the test itself has changed, but I work at a university, and we've made it harder to get credit. Ten years ago, you could get credit for 3s on most exams, and now you need at least a 4. There are a few for which we only give credit for 5s.

Even when I started college in 2004, AP credit was fairly useless. The UC system gave you credit for a 3, but there were very few exams that granted placement or exemption from a requirement, which required a 4 if not a 5. That was about it. You couldn't use AP credit to meet a breadth requirement, so it took some planning to even use them to graduate early. (I did know one or two people who finished a semester early to save money.) Basically, other than not repeating calculus and not being bored out of my skull in high school, my 70-odd units of AP credit were worthless.
posted by hoyland at 4:13 PM on July 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Oh, I did have to worry briefly about whether I'd get forced out by the unit cap before being able to graduate due to AP credit, but AP credits didn't count against the unit cap. (But have excess community college transfer credit did, I think. I knew a bunch of transfer students who were double majors for unit cap reasons.)
posted by hoyland at 4:17 PM on July 13, 2019


I started college in 2006, and the AP credits may have been mostly useless in terms of replacing or substituting for actual college classes, but they were fairly critical in getting into college at all. If your high school had AP courses available, you damn well took as many as you could to be competitive for UC admissions. I doubt I'd have gotten into Cal without my AP class load and the associated good grades and 3s and higher in those AP classes. Also, literally every single AP test was worth it just to test out of my gen ed math requirement at Cal. Every. Single. One.
posted by yasaman at 4:22 PM on July 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, I went into the University of Georgia with 10 AP courses under my belt in 2008, and I effectively started college as a second-semester sophomore. I did have a lot of 4s and 5s, but I also got multiple classes' worth of credit for some of them, like AP Biology (where my 5 counted for both semesters of intro biology) or Chemistry (where my 5 could count for both semesters of intro chemistry) or my AP Latin Vergil (where my 4 qualified me for two full classes' worth, and a 5 would effectively exempt you from the entire language requirement). Glancing at the current rates of credit transfer for AP scores--huh, they're still pretty damn liberal. At that university, an average semester is meant to be around 15 credit-hours; from my recollections of my scores, they would have handed me something like ~46 credit-hours.

Mind you, at UGA, most students are attending under the HOPE scholarship, which grants in-state students full tuition as long as they keep a 3.0 GPA or better. So the prevailing attitude is to get students to graduate as early as humanly possible; if I hadn't deliberately left my Phys Ed credit for the very last semester of my senior year, I might have been graduated with my Psychology degree before my Genetics degree was ready. With all that in mind, the generous credit policies for AP credits might make more sense--the state, and therefore the university policy is weighted with an eye towards getting students out quickly, and allowing AP credit to replace gen-ed requirements might accomplish that a little more effectively.
posted by sciatrix at 4:30 PM on July 13, 2019 [7 favorites]


Also, given the incredible strictness about making sure that everyone in North America takes the exam at exactly the same time--seriously, I took one of those courses through an independent study program and they made me take the exam at the same time, proctored by a single instructor, and refused to let me leave or read a book or whatever when I finished two hours early--I don't have a lot of sympathy for the College Board's cracking down on kids joking about the exams.

Lighten the fuck up, and maybe just commit to writing new test questions next year, dammit. This is a private corporation and shouldn't control this much power over so many students' futures. It's a fucked-up system when the College Board is scanning what kids joke about on the internet and interfering that closely with what they say and do.
posted by sciatrix at 4:35 PM on July 13, 2019 [31 favorites]


I don't know if the test itself has changed, but I work at a university, and we've made it harder to get credit. Ten years ago, you could get credit for 3s on most exams, and now you need at least a 4. There are a few for which we only give credit for 5s.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:37 PM on July 13 [2 favorites +] [!]


Eponysterical?

Presumably this would indicate increasing distance between test demands and university standards? That is, either the AP tests are getting easier, or the university has decided to ask for more as a minimum general ed requirement.

Either that, or there's something else a university doesn't like about having a class as a requirement which more than X students don't have to take.
posted by wildblueyonder at 4:45 PM on July 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Students posting “test content” on Twitter or Reddit violate the non-disclosure agreements they must sign before opening their booklets, according to the College Board.

Has anyone reminded the College Board that minors can't be held to contracts?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:58 PM on July 13, 2019 [25 favorites]


They can have their test scores invalidated, which is the penalty for such things.
posted by absalom at 5:02 PM on July 13, 2019 [7 favorites]


I went to college in 1992 (back before every damn subject had an AP exam) and my 3 in Bio got me bupkiss, but my 5 in Lit got me out of both the introductory literature survey and Comp 101.

So do they think these kids don't talk to one another the second the exam is over? The first words out of our mouths when it was over were "What did you use for the essay!?" (I used The Color Purple, which hadn't been part of our course curriculum but I had just finished like the day before, it was super fresh in my mind, and fit perfectly with the topic. I nearly punched the air when I got to that question, that shit wrote itself.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:12 PM on July 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


This is relevant to my interests because there’s a joke about Trump’s hair in the WIAT-III that I desperately want to share, but can’t because of test security. It’s in the examples of correct sentences on a subtest almost no one administers, too, so I can’t even bring it up as an in-joke with others in my field.
posted by brook horse at 5:17 PM on July 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


but there were very few exams that granted placement or exemption from a requirement, which required a 4 if not a 5

My memory (from a few years after that) is that a 4 or 5 could get you out of quite a few of the giant-lecture intro courses. Whether that was a good idea - depends. But I don't regret not repeating calculus.
posted by atoxyl at 5:17 PM on July 13, 2019


I have read that college calculus instructors are not very happy with AP calculus. They feel that those students are ill-prepared for Calc 2. In my own experience this is correct. I would have done better to have repeated calculus in college. I had not quite gotten my head around key concepts (e.g., integration by parts) and I would have benefited from being more secure in my knowledge. (All props to my AP Calc teacher though; he was very good but it just didn't soak in as much as would have been helpful.)
posted by sjswitzer at 5:40 PM on July 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Kids do talk to each other as soon as the exam is over--and as long as you only talk to the other people who've finished, they really don't care. When you post on social media, people in earlier time zones get early access to the content if they're looking for it. If you got on the phone to call your friend who hadn't taken it yet, that'd be just as much of a problem. I get wanting to meme about it. It's just that you can't, for the same reason that you can't do it while you're actually in the testing room. You know how they'll solve this if the problem gets out of hand? They'll start issuing different variants of the tests. Which will make the whole process more complicated and expensive.

So far, AP exams are actually something where the cost hasn't escalated completely out of hand, but that's a really fragile state; it's actually at the point where it costs them much more to grade some of the tests than people pay to register for them. It isn't okay to make academic progress even less accessible to lower-income people in the future just to get attention from strangers, guys. Sorry. Make the jokes privately to your friends.
posted by Sequence at 6:21 PM on July 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


They'll start issuing different variants of the tests.
I'm frankly pretty astonished that they don't, because that's absolutely an invitation to cheating. Some enterprising kid in New York is absolutely going to line up 50 kids in California who will pay $200 to get the essay questions an hour in advance, and there's nothing they can do about that.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:25 PM on July 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Some enterprising kid in New York is absolutely going to line up 50 kids in California who will pay $200 to get the essay questions an hour in advance

I would be absolutely amazed if there isn't already an organized, funded, rich-people group that does this. Just less with the money and more that Chad over there has the right parents.
posted by mrgoat at 6:28 PM on July 13, 2019 [9 favorites]


This has been going on for a while now... the totally swank underground palace from 2012 comes to mind, for instance.
posted by one for the books at 6:57 PM on July 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


The school where I taught actually eliminated AP courses. The students could take the APs if they wanted, but we felt the courses tended to emphasize coverage and facts over in-depth focus and deep understanding. As a result, perhaps the kids didn't do as well on the APs.

But then it was a prep school with a reputation and miles of privilege, and our students tended to do things like play the cello brilliantly or play squash at an international level, so they got into all kinds of hot shot schools anyway.
posted by Peach at 7:08 PM on July 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also, literally every single AP test was worth it just to test out of my gen ed math requirement at Cal.

As a math major bitter about everyone else knocking out breadth requirements with courses required for their major, I must point out that there is no gen ed math requirement in L&S. There's "quantitative reasoning" that virtually everyone meets by virtue of having an SAT score high enough to get in. (I knew a total of two people who hadn't met it that way.) The only math class that counted for a breadth requirement, IIRC, was Logic counting for Philosophy and Values.
posted by hoyland at 7:49 PM on July 13, 2019


Yeah, as a former calculus instructor, kids coming out of AP calc can barely tie their shoes...

The core battle of math instruction is to get students to use their brains instead of diving into rote computation. Pushing classes into high school doesn't help on that front.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:02 PM on July 13, 2019 [8 favorites]


The core battle of math instruction is to get students to use their brains instead of diving into rote computation.

That was sorta the opposite of my problem. I could work things out given enough time, but getting 100% of the first half of an exam right (and then running out of time) just didn't cut it. You need to internalize processes (yes, after understanding their foundations!) to be able to perform at expected levels. I caught up, eventually, but it was a real slog. Better if I had retaken it and been a bit more attentive to the rote aspects.

Regardless, I don't think most students are well served by testing out of fundamental topics. Some, yes, but most... no.
posted by sjswitzer at 8:10 PM on July 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


My first reaction was "the author doesn't know the difference between 'waver' and 'waiver'."
posted by queensissy at 6:26 PM on July 13


Also, doesn't know the difference between "anonymous" and "ask that their last name be withheld":
Claire, a high school junior, who asked to be anonymous
A student named Ang, who asked to be anonymous,
(Of course, all the students' last names are withheld, so maybe this is the author just being an unethical journalist?

This author also doesn't seem to get the big difference between the Louis XVI meme at the end of the post -- legit funny take on historical facts -- and the other memes listed, which are test-specific jokes that yeah, do provide an insider advantage or heads-up to other kids.

From the teens themselves:
The College Board is “like the kid who reminds the teacher there was homework the previous night that needs to be checked,” says Jack.
Uh, no. What? Does this kid even understand analogies?

Can you delete this tweet? We ask that The College Board not criticize memes that are way more important to our youth than the goddamn PSAT.
GOD, College Board! You just don't UNDERSTAND us! *slams door*

Look, I went to a pressure-cooker high school where the idiot principal microwaved a fork in the middle of the AP calculus exam, causing a mass evacuation and a lot of concern that our scores would be invalidated because we could have talked to one another about the exam while standing outside (in the end, they agreed to accept our exams, which was good because I promptly forgot everything about calculus as soon as I handed in my test). I get that kids want to blow off steam with a bunch of hot-takes, and also mock the grown-ups in charge of their grades. I mean, I just snarked on a couple of kids half my age, so really, what does that say about me?

But honestly, the lesson that what you post online will be seen by people you didn't intend, and that what you post online can have consequences and penalties as well as likes and retweets? That's a much more useful lesson to learn than the Fourier expansion or the Haber-Bosch process.
posted by basalganglia at 5:05 AM on July 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


It's a fucked-up system when the College Board is scanning what kids joke about on the internet and interfering that closely with what they say and do.

The College Board also helpfully sells textbooks and other curriculum materials, lets teachers and districts pay for training, and had complete control over what's on the test. I'm sure there's no conflict of interest there where they can extract money in exchange for the information needed to raise some students'test scores, whether or not that has anything to do when how much students have learned.

In all seriousness, the US has outsourced essentially all its testing and assessment to for-profit companies. Even state standardized tests are now designed and administered largely by private entities. It's a huge profit center for those companies and there's no real public accountability for whether the results are meaningful or used appropriately.
posted by thegears at 5:36 AM on July 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


My college didn't let me use my AP scores to test out of anything, BUT they counted as credit hours for registration purposes so I got to register with students who were technically a year ahead of me and that was WORTH IT.

Also, one of our essay prompts for one of the tests was a Jane Goodall quote and I felt very catered to.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:24 AM on July 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


queensissy: My first reaction was "the author doesn't know the difference between 'waver' and 'waiver'."

Also DBQs are document-based questions, not data-based questions. (Usually at least one of the sources is a graph or chart, but the point of the question is "what do these two primary sources, one secondary source, list of data points, and map tell us about [xyz historical event]? If these sources contradict each other, can you reflect on why?" It's a (admittedly hamfisted and rote) way of trying to get students to do actual analysis.)

My AP credit was enough to let me graduate from college in three years, and my AP classes were basically taught like honors-plus, with preparation for the test itself only taking up a handful of class sessions. I didn't realize how lucky I was.
posted by capricorn at 7:18 AM on July 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


So how does this Collage Board outfit know whose test results to invalidate when @SmartDong27 posts something they don’t like? Are they like the Border Patrol and they make you turn over your phone and all social media accounts and passwords?
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 1:33 PM on July 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


My school had both AP and IB classes, though in some cases they'd only offer one or the other version of a class but allow students to take both exams.

Our school district paid all fees for these tests, and anyone who qualified to take them was expected to. We were all pretty sure that the district/our principal was more invested in juicing the numbers than anything else (there were also cases of kids being pushed into honors or AP/IB classes that they weren't prepared for), but I did wind up going into college with a semester's worth of credits as a result - mostly from the IB exams and not the AP ones.

The students could take the APs if they wanted, but we felt the courses tended to emphasize coverage and facts over in-depth focus and deep understanding.


90% of my IB Latin class could not actually read Latin, but it didn't matter, because the tests were almost entirely asking us to provide translations of material we had already covered. If you memorized key vocabulary words, you could reliably remember enough of the English translations to ace the tests.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:34 AM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


I remember a common lament that the doodles we made during the AP/IB exams were always very high-quality doodles, and we hated having to leave them behind. We always hoped that some exam drone would at least glance at them and smile before throwing them away.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


To be fair re Latin, I was enough of a Latin nerd in high that I did Junior Classical League at both the state and national levels, and I actually competed in Sight Latin Reading and did very well at both levels. My username is a Latin backformation.

I was never reading and fluently translating in my head. I don't think I knew a single person in high school who was what I would call fluent in Latin conversationally--to read, maybe, but not to speak, and not to have a conversation. If that's the goal, I think maybe we need to look at the way Latin is traditionally taught at the high school level in the first place.
posted by sciatrix at 11:44 AM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


So how does this Collage Board outfit know whose test results to invalidate when @SmartDong27 posts something they don’t like?

This ties into Facebook's insistence on "real names" and the growing practice of cross-linking Facebook to every other social media account. They may not be able to find @SmartDong27, but if the account says "Joe Waller @SmartDong27," they've got a much better chance, especially if he regularly posts, "Mrs Frobish is a hardass. #IHateSchool #GlenwoodHighSucks"

However, I suspect that mostly they're counting on intimidation and the kids' ignorance, because the threat of "we'll invalidate your scores" involves penalizing Joe Waller, putting his entire academic future in jeopardy, without proof that he actually is SD27. And if Waller's parents are lawyers, I bet they'd have nice grounds for a lawsuit if it's not mentioned on the actual test papers, "your score will be based on your answers to the following questions... and whether or not you follow our off-campus rules on your social media accounts."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:05 PM on July 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


« Older The Black Media Mogul Who Understood the Power of...   |   Nóra Békés: Graphic designer and... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments