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Saturday sessions to prepare for AP test

favicon My latest effort to support my students to pass the AP English test is what I call “AP Saturdays.”

Every other Saturday morning, we meet for a couple hours to study for the test. We’re focusing mostly on the multiple-choice reading section, which is worth 45 percent of the overall score.

We’re doing practice tests, analyzing questions and answers, and trying to get scores up.

There’s been some progress, but we have a long way to go.

We’ve had three sessions so far. The first one was well attended. The second and third ones, however, have been sparse. For example, this morning, I had just 10 students (out of 23 total). Last time, I was extremely disappointed with my students, many of whom didn’t even bother to let me know they weren’t coming. Yes: completely disrespectful. This time, they did a much better job communicating with me and letting me know about their other responsibilities.

I’m finding out a lot about my students. They live full and complex lives. They’re committed to many things at the same time: school, family, work, sports, co-curricular activities, friends. On weekends, school largely goes away, while other activities take priority.

Here are some of the reasons students didn’t attend today’s session:

  • Little sister’s birthday party
  • Had to work (couldn’t change schedule)
  • Being recruited by college soccer coach
  • Went to internship
  • Took the ACT test

The excuses are understandable. But my students’ dream of passing the AP test cannot come true without many hours of focused study. There’s the rub. (Yes, I’m teaching Hamlet.) I’m realizing that part of my job this year is to convince my students that it’s worth it to drop something else they love and replace it with AP English — something they don’t particularly love.

In other words, in my role as the teacher, it’s not enough to motivate, and it’s not enough to have high expectations. In other words, in order for me to lead my students to pass the AP test, I’ll have to facilitate the destruction of another significant part of their lives.

Does that sound harsh?

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On a positive note, several students did extremely well on today’s practice test. One student got 49 correct out of 56. With that score, he could score a 5 on the test in May! favicon

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