The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Test Changes Coming to AP Courses

Collegeboard has been working to redesign specific AP tests and courses. Last year, the AP French test was altered and this year the AP Biology and Latin tests were redesigned.

The new AP French exam, implemented in the 2011-2012 year, focuses on a student’s ability to get their point across in the language, both in verbal communication and in writing. The new changes also focus on a deeper understanding of French culture, as well as what is going on in the country in modern times.

“It is focused more on culture and comprehensive communication,” AP French teacher Christophe Barquissau said. “So they are more concerned about whether [students] are capable of bringing across what [they’re] trying to say.”

The class has had to rely less on textbooks and more on outside news to develop a better understanding of French culture.
“You have to go online on a regular basis to fetch outside information and present this information to students,” Barquissau said. “If you are stuck with your textbook, students won’t be able to learn what they need to by the time they take the AP [test].”

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The 2012-13 year will see a redesigned AP Biology test, which will align with the knowledge and skills that college-level introductory biology courses now seek. It will emphasize the development of scientific inquiry and reasoning skills.

“Depth, scientific inquiry and reasoning is emphasized more [in the test] so that we can understand concepts, but also how scientists actually think and process,” AP Biology teacher Meghan Shuff said.

The exam will have fewer multiple choice and more data-based questions. It will be based on free-response essay questions and will be far more specific.

“The curriculum this year, instead of studying all these little segments, is covering four big ideas: ecology, evolution, genetics and cellular processes and interactions,” Shuff said. “This way we’re able to spend a lot more time going into each concept.”

The revised AP Latin exam will include both Latin poetry and prose. The exam will be based off two readings: Virgil’s “Aeneid” and Caesar’s “Gallic War.” It will also include sight-reading passages and continue to feature multiple-choice and free-response questions.

“For many years, there were two different AP Latin tests,” AP Latin teacher Krista Greksouk said. “But this year, they got rid of the two separate tests and have combined them.”

Because of the changes in the AP exam, the AP Latin class has had to adjust its curriculum.

“The way it used to work is that the students would read the English version of Virgil over the summer and we’d translate it throughout the year,” Greksouk said. “It would be all Virgil all the time. But this summer [the students] also had to read Caesar. ”

Other courses:

The AP Chemistry and AP Spanish Language and Culture tests will also be changed in the 2013-14 school year. In addition, the AP Physics and AP United States History tests will be changed in the 2014-15 school year.

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