It's happened again, another year of AP Biology has come and gone. Next week sometime I hope to produce a thorough review of the year (it's been a good one), but at this point I just want to recognize that the exam is finally over. Two weeks ago I assigned the citizens of AP Bio a singular mantra, "Success trains. Failure complains." Initially, I put this out there in response to an extraordinary amount of complaining about having to do hard review work rather than just coasting to the exam, but I think some of the students may have actually taken it to heart. One evidence of the work that they put in prior to the test is the students' immediate post exam comments. I heard a lot of, "I studied topic X but topic X was nowhere on the test." And not very much, "I had no idea what ____ was." There was much bellyaching, from teacher and student alike, about the sudden disappearance of rigorous math from the exam; Hardy-Weinberg, Chi square, Standard Deviation and Error, and Probability have all been tested before. Why not this year? Really, I will maintain that these are good skills for students to have, and are skills that I will continue to teach. Even if they don't show up on the exam.
I always find these post exam reflections informative. Especially when juxtaposed against the students' concerns and preparations in the days leading up to the test. A good example of this before and after can be seen in this year's final edition of the week in review. Our before reflection comes to us from Taylor Byers and the after is a contribution of Ramya Mulugu.
This week in AP Bio, one of the final weeks of the course, has been incredibly busy. Between trying to review for our exam, taking other AP exams, and fighting off “senioritis,” our 8 students have put in a lot of effort into making this year in AP Bio worthwhile. Much of this week has been a return to the olden days when teachers would write notes and lecture in class. This shake-up from our typically “flipped” class has been a vital resource in reviewing for the AP exam because it allows us to get customized help in the subjects we struggle with. As our year is coming to a close, we began to wrap up our final round of AP Bio Fight Club. Almost everyday this week, the two teams have participated in a fierce battle for extra credit. We’ve answered practice multiple-choice questions, drawn diagrams, written sample free response questions, and more many “fun” challenges. With all of the points up for grabs in these final days, it’s nearly impossible to declare a clear winner yet. We have been assigned a montra: “Success trains, failure complains.” For many of us, training for the AP exam has been a priority, or at least one of our priorities, and we are hoping for the best on Monday morning.
Yesterday was the day all AP Biology students dreaded, yet looked forward to. A chance to prove that two semesters hadn’t been wasted on us, to prove to Mr. Kite that, yes, we really did imbibe knowledge from his videos and in his class. Dramatics aside, we all felt the intensity as we started the ultimate examination. There were 63 multiple choice questions with 5 grid-in questions first, and after the 30th question, it became a fixed action pattern in order to get through as many questions as possible. At some points, I almost felt Mr. Kite could have written the test, while at others it felt like he had passed on the scythe to a much more formidable opponent. The free response was another matter entirely, because it’s one thing when you have answers to eliminate, but quite another when you must corroborate your responses on the knowledge that is trapped in your brain. It is, by the way, incorrect to say that we only use 10% of our brain; anyone who believes this fallacy best not take the AP exam, because you’re going to need 10% X 10 to succeed. As students, we would all engage in the piteous practice of self flagellation for the answers we think (or know) that we got wrong. This is normal, but it doesn’t change the fact that we all showed up and gave it our best effort. There are not many classes that have such an eclectic collection of intelligent and enthusiastic individuals, and I feel lucky to have been part of the close-knit group that was the AP Bio class of 2014-15.