So, Emma has her AP World History test this morning. (Prayers and good thoughts to her from everyone, please.)
We were going over her test booklet this morning (a book I highly recommend by the way – actually, I recommend the entire series), 5 Steps to a 5, 500 AP World History Questions to Know by Test Day. I flipped through the book and found a page that had X’s on every question, meaning while she was studying, she’d gotten every question wrong. So naturally, I started there.
Aren’t I just super? Nothing like a little tough love with salt for that wound.
The questions ranged from feudal traditions to Peter the Great to what set the North American colonization issues apart from the rest of the world. In other words, all over the map, literally. Hey, its AP World after all, right? The sheer volume of information has to be intimidating. So glad I’m done with that part of my life!
My experience with World History is different from Emma’s in that even though I took the class in high school, I never took the AP exam, simply because I was a chicken. I took the classes in college as well as every Music History class (because I had to) and so probably got a somewhat broader, if not musically slanted picture painted for me. What I learned about taking these tests and scoring well on these exams (and I’m talking now about the SAT’s and ACT’s as well), is that there is a huge amount of logic involved, both in the information itself as well as the strategies of elimination and multiple choice.
Bring on your inner Hermione!
Every question that Emma got wrong this morning was her first instinct. Emma is an exceptionally caring person. She thinks a lot. Overthinks, in fact. She tries to understand the human component and how would she react in such a situation. She doesn’t understand people who act out of their own selfish interests. Unfortunately for her, I’m not sure that most of humanity throughout history, especially those in power, had this same mindset. This means that their decisions (i.e. the correct answers to the questions) were based mainly on logic and not emotion. Not always, but I would venture to guess a good portion of the time.
It was very interesting listening to Emma’s responses. They made absolute perfect sense, and the emotional response for most people would be the same thing, I think. That is exactly why that response is one of the answers. I think that the makers of the test want to see if students can learn to think outside of their own emotions and initial responses to see if there is a more panoptic reason for why someone in history did what he or she did. Of course, here I’m speaking entirely about History as a subject, but I think this same concept could be applied to test taking in general. Logic tells me that of the answers provided, there are probably “traps” that most students fall in to, that’s why they are there. I’ll bet that happens to a certain percentage of students taking the tests. I encouraged her to try and think more clinically about her responses, based on what we worked on this morning, maybe it will work? (Or maybe I will have just caused her to get a 2 on the exam – that’s me, super mom!)
I am going to think about this a little more. The whole applying to college thing will be happening again for husband and me in the next year with Emma going into her junior year. I have made Emma promise to jump on the SAT and the ACT in the fall, and this summer we are going to visit UNC and Duke. I will report on those visits when we go, and I promise I’ll take pictures.
In the meantime though, this concept about emotion vs. logic is an interesting one to me … hmm. I would be curious to know what other parents think about this … anyone? Anyone?