I tutored an awful lot of AP comp this year… Somehow, I didn’t quite realize that the exam had been tweaked since I took it in 1999. Although I’ve tutored it before, I think I blocked out the actual experience of taking the exam as soon as it was over, and so I was mildly taken aback when one of my students mentioned how incredibly glad he was that it no longer included anything like the Susan Sontag prompt from 2001 (third question). Granted the 2001 question is very difficult, even by AP standards, but it’s still closer to what I remember (click here to see the 1999 questions from the test I took).
Here, by way of comparison, is the 2012 test (see the third question): the open-ended quote has now been replaced by the presumably more “relevant” synthesis essay.
I was under the mistaken impression that AP exams are intended to test college-level skills. I think it’s fair to say that 2001 fulfills that requirement; 2012 I’m not so sure about.
Not coincidentally, David Coleman, the incoming president of the College Board and champion of the AP program, is concerned about why so many students are unable to achieve passing grades on AP exams.
The obvious solution? Make the exams easier, of course!
That way everyone wins: the College Board can extol the virtues of the Common Core and its curriculum reforms program, and no one ever has to confront the fact that kids aren’t actually learning anything of substance because they’re spending all their time prepping for standardized tests. And since the kids will be totally lacking in critical thinking skills, it won’t occur to them to protest the watered-down excuse for an education they’re being served.
After all, who really cares about Sophocles and the dangers of pride when there’s the United States Post Office to worry about?