AP TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS


I. Multiple Choice.

 

Cut Out Careless Errors

Let's begin by dealing with the careless kinds of mistakes that make students moan and groan when they get their tests back. First, let's state the obvious: read the directions carefully. Many students are in such a hurry to start the test that they do not read the instructions and make careless errors as a result.

Secondly, monitor your time so you do not get in a last-minute rush to finish the test. If there are 50 items and your teacher limits the testing time to 50 minutes, then you obviously have only about a minute to answer each question. The point here is not that you should time each item with a stopwatch. Simply monitor your progress periodically to make sure that you do not get caught in a time crunch.

Third, do not start second-guessing yourself and changing your original answers. Research has indicated that your first hunch is more likely to be correct. You should only change answers to questions if you originally misread them or if you have encountered information elsewhere in the test that indicates with certainty that your first choice is incorrect.

Finally, allow enough time to go through the test to make sure that you have not left an item blank, mismarked the answer sheet, or made some other simple oversight.

Three Phases of Objective Test Taking

It might help to think of your objective test taking as falling into three distinct phases, which, if followed in sequence, should improve your final grade:

Phase One: Go through the test and answer only those items that you are confident you can answer correctly, skipping the other items momentarily. This strategy helps you build confidence and assures that you will get credit for what you know if you run low on time. Also, as you read and answer questions, you are making mental associations and reviewing the material. A term listed further into the test may be the one that was just on the "tip of your tongue" when you were trying to answer an earlier item.

Phase Two: Go back through the test and focus on items you skipped in the first phase, using a slightly different strategy: identify and eliminate what you are relatively sure are incorrect answers. Try cutting down on the possible choices to improve your odds.

Phase Three: Once you have exhausted your knowledge and narrowed the choices remaining by eliminating unlikely answers, its time to make your best guess. But you don't have to make this a coin-flip decision. The next section looks at some issues that can help you improve your odds even further.

You're Not Guessing...You're Thinking Critically.

You can improve your odds by keeping in mind some important information about language:

Under typical conditions, most of a child's core values are set by approximately age ten.

On the other hand, the "decoys" on a multiple choice test and false statements on true-false questions may not be worded so carefully; they may sound a little too absolute or too "pat." With the qualifiers missing, the validity of the statement is highly suspect:

A child's values are set by age ten.

When you have applied everything you know to the question and are still forced to guess, choose multiple choice answers that are longer and more "qualified" in their phrasing. Apply the same "yard stick" to true-false items: guess true for more detailed, qualified statements and false for those that are short and contain absolute language.

Some Tips for Multiple-Choice Tests

Multiple choice items consist of a question or an incomplete statement, called the "stem," typically followed by four to five choices. Most often only one is the correct or "best" answer and the others are called distracters or decoys.

A couple of strategies can help you do your best on multiple choice tests. First, cover the answers to an item and read only the stem of the question. See if you can provide the correct answer without having to be prompted by the choices. If an answer comes to mind, then look at the choices and select it if it is listed there.

If you apply the first strategy and no answer pops into your head, try the second: Join each choice to the question or the stem and consider it as a true/false item. The answer that sounds most valid or "most true" should be your choice.

And third, teachers are often limited in their "supply of decoys," and as a result will make up terms to use for that purpose. To the student who has missed classes or not studied, the made-up decoy is hard to detect. If you have been attending regularly and have done a good job of preparing for the test, you should not choose an answer that sounds totally new to you.

If you find yourself having to guess on multiple-choice items, you might keep the following tips in mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II. Essays

 

 

 


How to Write a Good AP Essay

 

1) Read the question—what is it asking?

 

2) Answer or attempt to answer ALL parts of the question. You must answer all parts or you will get nothing on missing parts.

 

3) Don’t write an editorial. Analyze the information, give a fact based response, not your opinion.

 

a) Don’t try to be funny. You’re probably not. 4 people will read each essay, working 8 hours a day.

b) Don’t name drop, cite a study; it won’t be helpful. The readers know more, and you are more likely to get them wrong.

c) write in ink, it’s easier to read, skipping a line also makes it easier to read. Skip a line if you have bad handwriting

 

4) When in doubt, leave it out. You don’t have to tell everything, and uncertainty can detract from the quality of your essay.

 

5) Make an outline (in your head or on the paper, margin). Organization is very important, makes essay easier to read, benefiting you. Answer in complete sentences, and use outlines(bullet points) in place of essay responses only if you are running out of time. Grammar and spelling do not count against you, but can detract from the essay (readers are human). Glaring factual errors theoretically not cost you points, but can influence readers.

 

6) Current events are good for examples in your essay—be mindful of what is going on in the news.

 

7) When answering a question on a chart, a typical essay will require you to 2 things:

         a) explain what the chart says in essay from

         b) plug your knowledge—why? How can you explain it?

 

8) Avoid the “shot-gun” approach: don’t try and answer everything under the sun.

 


 

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON AP TEST THIS MAY

 

 

Trends in Curriculum Research - Media, shifting perception of the media

A.   Agenda Setting

B.    Frames issues

C.    Spiral of Silence

D.   Age - Generational Factor

I.               Lifecycle

II.             Generational

III.           Period effect

 

President is constitutionally weak—how does he compensate:

Power is generated from public opinion = popularity. Know why are presidents popular, what factors effect popularity, and how can a president increase it?
Suggested terms to know:


a) rally-around-the-flag factor: result of a major foreign policy crisis. Push and pull-factors moving the line + or -.

         b) state of the economy

         c) unemployment rate

         d) inflation rate

         e) coalition of minorities-need to win elections

         f) war: latter phase (inverse relationship of casualties and popularity)

         g) unique events (corruption, scandal, etc)

 

Comparative Possibilities

        

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