Day 64: Beat the Test
By Mark Heintz
Nov 13, 2019

Day 64

Today the students went through the test they took last week. It’s not about the right answer, but more why are they getting questions correct or incorrect. Afterwards, the students wrote out one thing they learned about going through the test. I don’t want to say we are trying to beat the test, but there is an element of gaming the test. There is a specific language for each AP exam and if the students become away of the patterns and word choice they can navigate it more easily. Anyways, I collected their responses and they are below.


I learned that i need to review what I personally need to know instead of what the class needs to know
I learned that I need to study way longer than the amount I study at the moment
I learned that I preform better on my tests when I reread the questions.

I learned that I have a hard time understanding some of the questions and the wording and just give up.
I don’t know anything other than my religion and I can’t remember every single term learned in life. I also work bad under pressure.

Student Response


If you study it is overall pretty easy
I need to know what assimilation, missionaries, and the difference of the different kinds of diffusion.
I learned that I should start studying and reviewing right away as we learn and not try to cram everything in the last minute.

One thing I learned is that I can get distracted and have to reread things a lot.
I always pick the top two choices I have on a question, but I always choose the wrong one
I got a lot of the diffusion questions wrong and got confused from relocation and expansion diffusion. The other topic that confused me was distribution of cultures.

A pattern in the way I take tests is that for some of the questions I get stuck between two answers and then I choose the one I think is less likely to be true for no reason.

I learned that I don’t really know the languages and religions and how they diffused.
I really need to make sure I don’t misclick, I lost two Important questions because I misclicked, and almost lost like, 4 or 5 others. So yeah, misclicking is a thing that happens.
I think I need to learn the material better and read the answers better so I can eliminate answers to help get it right.

One thing I learned is that I doubt the answer I believe is correct when I get down to two options and I choose the distractor.

I learned that I need to focus more on cultural landscape and the definition of it. I also learned that, this unit really sucked for me; it could be because of how I couldn’t wrap my mind around it (though I don’t really know why; I focused during class). Also, I realized that when I take a test, I tend to over think my answers and doubt myself. I also fell into the test’s traps like the map that should us the dispersal of Swedish Ethnicity. On the multiple choice, I didn’t so do well but for the FRQ I did really well but I can’t count on my “once in a life time luck” that I experienced this FRQ desk.

My Response

As my friend and colleague Kim Miklusak puts it, “my purpose of this is to equip them to critically adapt to what is front of them.” It’s not to say that I don’t help them find their voice, passion, and interest; I’m still attempting to do that, too. However, I want them to learn from this experience and move forward in the system they are in. I want them to understand the test and how to adapt to it. I need them to be critical thinkers about why they are misunderstanding questions and how to answer them in the future.

Another problem is the difficulty of the AP exam. If a student scores just above a 50% on the multiple choice they can still earn college credit. So when a student takes a practice test or unit exam, there is a degree of reteaching them what a “good” score is because they have been normed by the 100% scale. It’s hard to tell a student that they actually did well when they score a 72%.  Often, I’m pointing out how much they have learned and name the learning that has taken place. Essentially, I don’t want the test to change the narrative of learning. Even our superintendent has said as much. You can read his post in EdWeekly here.






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