kitchen table math, the sequel: Mandatory bubbling session for AP students

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mandatory bubbling session for AP students

While we were at the High School last week, viewing the 10th grade IB students' personal projects (year-long self-discovery projects), I noticed this sign in the commons. For those not familiar with standardized tests, this is a MANDATORY session on how to correctly bubble in the answers on the AP exams.



Anonymous said...

I would not panic without knowing the content. Two points, at least, could be covered:

*) You need to fill in the bubble entirely, with a black (or blue?) pen. Don't write too far outside the bubble. Don't mark in any other bubble for that answer.

*) Strategy for when to guess.

I can imagine that there may be a few other topics covered.

Neither of these are "obvious" for someone who hasn't been through this before. The school (and the students) want the students to have the highest score they can achieve.

It needs to be covered sometime ... and if they spent valuable class time covering this we'd be mocking them for taking time away from academics, no?

-Mark Roulo

CassyT said...


Point taken. Lunch is 30 minutes, so I'm guessing they're not covering too much.

Students in Colorado have been taking the CSAP since third grade, the MAP twice a year, the PSAT by this point in their AP career, and probably the ACT or SAT at least once. This class is geared towards AP students.

I wonder why they didn't call it a Test Prep session?

Anonymous said...

"Students in Colorado have been taking the CSAP since third grade, the MAP twice a year, the PSAT by this point in their AP career, and probably the ACT or SAT at least once. This class is geared towards AP students."

You would think that blue/black bubble filling would be a done deal at this point, although the correct guessing strategy is still test specific.

But ... my son is now in his 5th season of little league. Many of his teammates have been playing just as long. You would *think* after 5 years that basics like "run *through* first base, don't slow down" would have been mastered by this point. I mean, come on! They've been playing for 4+ seasons, so about 80 games. The concept isn't that difficult.

You would be wrong :-( Some kids still slow down when approaching first base. Some still slow down to watch the ball (and then get thrown out at first as a result, when if they had run hard they would be safe).

If *I* was going to get any of the credit/blame for the kids' AP scores, I would hold a session like this. I don't think that it *should* help, but I bet that it does...

"I wonder why they didn't call it a Test Prep session?"

Shrug. Maybe they call the stuff in the few classes before the AP test where they review content "Test Prep"? Maybe they didn't think about it?

-Mark Roulo

farmwifetwo said...

Maybe they need the help b/c they've watched too much tv as toddlers


Bostonian said...

I agree a "mandatory bubbling session" is silly -- haven't these students taken standardized multiple choice tests before?

What concerns me more is your comment about "viewing the 10th grade IB students' personal projects (year-long self-discovery projects)". This sounds wasting time navel-gazing. Students should "disover" their talents and interests by taking challenging courses and possibly doing relevant jobs and internships. What do the "year-long self-discovery projects" entail?

CassyT said...

From an IB School presentation:

The IB MYP Personal Project is
-An independent culminating project.
-An opportunity for students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have developed in the IB MYP.
-Work with a community mentor to develop real-world skills.
-Required of all MYP 10th graders.

Here's a list of some I can remember:
Fused glass -3 students including out neighbor worked with an artist to learn how to make glass art & jewelry.

Bike parts jewelry & belts - Student took apart old bikes and re-purposed them into usable objects.

Tennis tournament for charity - 2 boys worked together to plan and host this event.

Writing - one wrote a novel for kids (longhand!), the other an adult novel.

Video documentary of the Poudre River (This was impressive!)

Cake decorating
Costume design
Sewing a traditional Hmong dress
Sewing a traditional Irish dancing dress
Building a chicken coop & learning how to keep chickens
Building a boat
Restoring a 1960's Corvette
Building a go-cart engine
Converting a truck engine to run on recycled food grade oil
Wind power turbine design
Writing a game for a pc
Build (make) a guitar

Last year, one student got plenty of local press for building a Dr. Seuss-inspired playhouse for an asthma-related charity that was auctioned off, then ended being donated by the auction winners to the Fort Collins Community Gardens. The projects this year were not quite on that scale.

Anonymous said...

This is obviously a session to fill in the massive amounts of personal data required by the College Board. You only have to do this once if you are taking multiple exams, but it's better to do it before testing begins so that you don't lengthen an already painful standardized testing process on the day of the exam.

Lisa said...

Wouldn't you imagine an AP student could read the directions? Happily, our high school (according to my kids) did not have a bubbling session. Though it brings to mind all kinds of soapy fun.

GoogleMaster said...

Why do AP students need to be skilled at bubbling at all? Have they changed the AP exams since I took them in the early 80s? I seem to recall being handed a stapled sheet with the questions, plus one or more blue books in which to show work and write the answers in a free-form manner.

I took:
- Latin (Horace/Catullus)
- Chemistry
- Calculus AB
- English
(seems like it was more, but that's all I can recall; maybe I'm remembering the Achievements (now called SAT II), which I think I took for more subjects), and I remember using blue books for all of them.

Anonymous said...

"Why do AP students need to be skilled at bubbling at all?"

Because some of the tests include a multiple choice component. My guess is that these are implemented as scantron-type bubble tests.

See the AP US History page for an example.

-Mark Roulo

Anne-Marie said...

My children have taken AP tests recently. This is not a scandal. Every test-taker has to fill out a form with name, address, etc., and fill in the appropriate bubble for each letter/digit of that information. This is done once per student, regardless of how many AP exams the student is taking that year. This session is probably when that form is filled in.

And yes, AP exams include multiple-choice questions that require bubbled-in answer sheets as well as free-response questions that are written in an answer booklet. BTW, you do that with a #2 pencil, not a pen.

Catherine Johnson said...

I just saw this!

I need a bubbling class!

(So you all think this is probably not a test prep session but just a session to get the bubbling done for all the tests at the same time, right?)

Eowyn said...

I only just saw this post.

One more thing that the students need to practice is that AP penalizes you for a wrong answer. Which means knowing when to >not< bubble in an answer is important.