Teaching AP Human Geography to 9th graders is hard and don’t let anyone tell you it’s not.  But it is absolutely NOT impossible.  One of the keys to doing it successfully is to prepare your students for everything, including how to take an Advanced Placement Exam from start to finish.

Ninth graders have never taken a test like an AP Exam before.  For many of them,  the only high stakes tests they have taken are normed state tests and they have been successful on those tests with a minimum of effort.  An AP Exam is another beast all together.

ap exam

Preparing freshmen to take the AP Exam is just as important as teaching them the content.  One of the best ways to prepare students is to hold a mock/practice AP Exam from start to finish. Just knowing what happens during the AP test can alleviate all levels of test anxiety. Think about how nervous you get about the unknown and then put that on a 13-14 year old.

Think your students won’t show up?  Guess again!  The first  year we offered a Saturday Mock Exam, I expected 10 or 15 students.  We had over 75 show up.  I was amazed.  That was followed by parent emails about how taking a mock exam alleviated not only their child’s anxiety, but theirs as well.  The photo above shows 40 of my 89 test takers at school this past Saturday morning taking a test — one that doesn’t “count”.  Next week we have another 35 signed up.  If you offer it, they will come.

In case you want to host a mock practice exam at your school, here’s how we do it —

  1.  We offer two testing opportunities — two Saturday mornings in April.  Students sign up for one date.
  2. We use the released exam found on the AP Audit site.
  3. We have students arrive at 7:30, the same time they are to arrive for the “real” exam.
  4. We check them in, make sure they have 2 — #2 pencils and 2 — blue or black ink pens.  We take their cell phones and any other devices — just like on the day of the exam — see a pattern here?
  5. We assign them seats, go over the exam directions, pass out exams and begin promptly at 8:00 — just like the AP Exam.  Students who show up after 8:00 are sent home.
  6. We time the exam exactly — even if everyone is finished, we sit the entire time.  This is good practice for 9th graders, many of whom have a difficult time just sitting and doing nothing.
  7. We take a 10 minute bathroom/snack break between the multiple choice and FRQ sections, beginning promptly.
  8. This is where we deviate from the exam day procedures — While students are taking the FRQ section of the exam, we score their multiple choice responses.  Upon completion of the FRQ section — and a much needed bathroom break, we score the FRQS together.  (this takes about 20 minutes as our students have scored FRQs all year and know how the process works).
  9. We will then calculate their score for the exam.  We use the calculation found in any of the available APHG Exam Review books.  We feel it is important for students to know how they did before they walk out the door.
  10. Students are also given time to go through the M/C questions they missed and make notes on topics they did not perform well on.
  11. Please note — students do not leave the testing room with any test materials.  We use the Audit released AP Exam from College Board and these materials are for teacher use only — not for distribution to students.

When students leave for the day, they know these 3 things to prep for the exam;

  • their score on this particular exam
  • if they need to work on M/C or  FRQ strategies
  • specific topics they need to spend time reviewing

And, more importantly, they know what is coming.  They know exactly what to expect on exam day.  Students tell us their anxiety about the test was less because they knew what the test would be like, what was expected of them and exactly what was going to happen.  They only worried about the content of the exam, and that is certainly enough for a 9th grader to worry about!

Have you hosted a mock AP Exam?  If so, please share your experience and what you do that has worked for students and teachers to make the process more effective.  If you would like to host a mock exam and have questions, just ask below.


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