Facing trials/ Fixing Errors

HE SAID

by Jacky Shum

There I was, 8 a.m. at the school library, falling asleep and about to fail my AP world history exam.

The night before the exam, my friend and I decided to pull an all-nighter in order to cram as much information as we could into our heads. For the first couple hours we quizzed each other, studied the textbook and even did practice exams with a passion.

It was not until around 4 a.m. when we really started to feel the effects from the lack of sleep; however, we had decided to stick it out, saying, “We’ll sleep when we finish the exam.” The rest of the night felt like a blur as we drowsily reviewed the rest of our flashcards.

The weather was unforgettably cold and dreary (foreshadowing my imminent failure) as we dragged ourselves to the school library to take the exam. As we were split up by last name in alphabetical order, I felt myself dozing off at multiple points during the tedious pre-registration.  Taking the multiple choice, my exhaustion and inability to focus affected my ability to reason effectively.

As my sense of judgement became clouded, easy questions and obvious answers turned into confusions and doubts. Struggling with the significance of an “Indian McDonalds,” even the most basic knowledge started to slip away from me as I mixed up different facts. Soon, there were only five minutes left and I decided to bubble in “C” for the whole column. The essays were no better, as I was unable to comprehend, much less properly address, the prompt at hand.

By the time the scores arrived, I was quite disappointed that I achieved an overall score of “2” on the exam. Using that experience, I decided to improve my testing strategies to better prepare for future exams without overextending myself.

While examining my own study habits, I also learned many things about myself. Although studying through the night with a friend may be fun and beneficial for some students, I realized that I learned at a different pace than my friends, and that it was more advantageous for me to study alone, preferably to the tune of slow songs.

Most importantly, instead of desperately cramming information into one night before the exam, I learned to reserve at least a couple of days to cram over a longer period of time.

Taking this experience with me into the following years of high school, I was able to apply these new tactics whenever a testing opportunity presented itself. Although my testing results are getting better with the application of these strategies, I feel that I can still discover new ways to improve through trial and error on my own.

SHE SAID

by Crystal Huang

After earning a “2” on my AP World History exam sophomore year, I realized that I needed to start studying earlier, understand the intensity of taking an AP exam, and was adamant about passing my junior year AP exam.

I had spent the weekend reading tips in my review book before my very first practice exam that following Monday and attempted different study strategies, so I could determine what exactly worked for me.

As I sat down in my seat, ready to take my practice exam, I realized I was incredibly nervous. English was always a subject I loved and had never much trouble in, so I did not want to disappoint myself by failing. After I received the graded scantron, I was disappointed because my score translated to a “2,” in terms of AP scoring. However, in the following weeks, my percentage on each scantron slowly rose as each question was clarified in class.

I found that the essays were a lot more difficult to improve on than the multiple choice. I aspired to find a method that worked for me. I needed more evidence to support my claims, and I needed to dig deeper into the meanings of the passage for a stronger analysis.

It was not until later that I learned my score for the essay portion could only really improve by doing more independent reading, taking as many practice essays as I could in and out of class, and analyzing sample essays. This method of studying really helped my essay scores improve. I also took it upon myself to ask questions one-on-one so that I could address issues I was having.

In the month of July, when AP scores were sent, I was relieved as I saw my score of a “3” next to the words “AP English Language and Composition.”

After comparing study methods from AP World History and AP English Language and Composition, I discovered which particular methods worked for me and which didn’t. I knew from AP World History that I needed to start studying a month before the exam, so I had a substantial time period for improvement.

I also discovered that having conversations with teachers helped tremendously. Advice from students about what topics they focused on and their feelings while taking the test were beneficial as well. I don’t apply these study methods only when prepping for an AP exam but for regular tests in my classes as well.    

Now I can say I have developed specific study methods that work for me. But I didn’t realize what worked for me and what didn’t until I took my time and patience to try different approaches.

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