AP Students conflicted on long finals

Varsha Ravi, Staff Writer

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The dragging monotony ofnals season has long sinceceased to be a surprise.

But some students were sur- prised by the length of their APnal exams in late December.

Last semester, two AP class-es had nals that took somestudents a lot longer than the two-hours allotted per class inthe exam schedule.

“I stayed until around 4:30,so around ve hours of total testtime,” senior Kristin Mifsudsaid of her AP Economics nal. “The nal was just so long.Like when the bell rang, my

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entire class just sort of laughed,because none of us were even close to being done. I personally wasn’t even halfway through thenal when the bell rang.”

Students were caught offguard by the length of the nal,ill prepared for the time it would take out of their day which was supposed to end at 12:40 p.m.

“I had a college applicationdue the next day, and I neededto work on it,” Mifsud said. “Luckily, I was still able to get it in on time, but what happened didn’t help the situation.”

Senior Ming Chan was one of the few students whonished the sixth period APEcon test when the bell rang. He said he’d heard about thelength of the nal from otherstudents, and had gone in with the knowledge that it would be fairly time consuming.

“Obviously it’s the nal soit’s going to be longer than other tests, but it did feel a lot longer,”Chan said. “[But] I didn’t nd it particularly dif cult. Just afterhearing from fourth period, I kind of went into the test with this determination that I wasgonna nish by the time thebell rang and I didn’t really care about what grade I got.”

Students in AP Physics also found themselves staying after class to complete the exam.But the long length of the naldid not surprise many students.

“Compared to the other tests in the class, it was about normal difficulty,” junior VatsalyaVerma said. “I felt like the nalwas well designed to see if the student understood everything, considering it’s an AP class.”

Other AP Physics students agreed.

“I loved the final because it covered relevant topics,” junior Jerry Gao said. “That I knew, of course.”

AP Physics teacher Debbie Sater explained that the formatof the nal was a mixture ofconceptual multiple choice and actual calculation problems, modeled after the AP exam that students will take in May.

“It was basically hitting the big topics that’d we’d covered over the semester,” Sater said. “Since it’s AP, it’s comprehen- sive, so basically everythingwas fair game for the nal.Honestly, the people who’d done their homework should’vebeen able to nish it in twohours,” she said.

The length and the difficulty of the AP Physics final was no surprise in the slightest to Gao. “I was actually prepared for it,” Gao continued. “Like I was confident that the final would be long, and my schedule wasn’t packed, so it was me.”

But AP Economics students weren’t nearly as prepared for the length of their final.

“Honestly I thought the final was too long,” said a senior boy who wished to remain anonymous because he was being critical of the test. “I would’ve liked it to be maybe 20 questions shorter… but I didn’t want to leave before I finished the test because it was such a significant part of my grade.”

AP Economics teacher Kelly McCoy explained the logicbehind her nal, which had 100multiple choice questions and two free response questions.

She said she allowed students

to stay after school to take aslong as they needed to nish the nal. McCoy said she alsorounded up students’ final grades that were on the border. For example, students who earned 79 percent in the class had their grades rounded up to B’s, and students with 89s had grades rounded up to A’s.

“Everything is a cost bene tanalysis,” McCoy explained.“For me, the way that I gured it out is that there’s more bene tassociated with allowing kids to have roughly 15 minutes inthe beginning to rm stuff up. I also think it’s more bene cialto allow kids to relax, especially because again, it’s an AP class, and I want them to get to the 9.”

McCoy said the nal, whichis identical in format to past years with the exception of an additional extra-credit FRQ,

usually has never taken students this long to complete.

McCoy said the length ofthe nal was in part becauseit allowed students to achieve the grade that they wanted in the class, and required a certain amount of points and questionsto meet that objective. The nalaccounted to nearly 30 percent of students’ grades.

“My goal is not time, my goal is achievement,” McCoy said. “Nobody was forced to do anything, I allowed them to do that. So if you needed more time, I allowed you to take it.”

Since students complainedabout the nal, McCoy shortendand placed a time limit on her last test in January, AP Econom- ics students said.

Not all AP classes had nalsthat extended beyond two hours. AP Statistics teacher Ghazala

Niazi, planned for a much short-er nal that left extra time forher students.

“I looked for College Board AP questions in line withchapters that we’d covered rstsemester – multiple choice ques- tions for those chapters,” Niazi said. “I wanted it to take no more than an hour and 30 minutes, since that’s how long the actual multiple choice section is on the AP exam. I wanted to replicate it as much as I could.”

Niazi said that she believed her students would be able tocomplete her nal in the timeallotted.

“I think it was well balanced,” Niazi said. “I think there’s a lot of reading in statistics.. but once you’ve done the reading and es- tablished the question, then the actual question on data analysis is quite straightforward.”