And They Are Off

As I sit here, my 108 AP World History students are taking The Exam. After 34 weeks, 40 chapters, multiple essays, hours and hours of prep, nine after school and spring break review sessions, practice exams, dozens of readings, and too many lectures, it all comes down to a three and a half hour exam.

In some ways, I feel like an old-time expectant father, pacing in the hallway. I have done all I can, I sat with those who showed up for their morning classes, joked around with them, trying to lighten the mood. I answered last minute frantic questions all the way up to the time they entered the rooms to take the exam. Most worked hard for this and they deserve to do well. Now I sit in the library, then my office, waiting.

For me, here’s the scary part: what if I didn’t emphasize the right topics? 10,000 years of history. There is no way I can hit every relevant topic, explore every comparison. It all comes down to 70 multiple choice questions and three essays. Most of what we discussed will not be on the test. We, technically, are not judged by pass rates, but we all want high ones.

Doesn’t matter at this point. They are already almost done with the multiple choice section.

This has been an amazing teaching year. 10,000 years in 34 weeks is impressive. I have never been so intellectually stimulated, between having a majority of the students genuinely interested in the content and learning much of the earlier history (my historical emphasis has been on last three hundred years, anything before that is totally Euro-centric).

Now it wasn’t always so rosy. 10,000 years in 34 weeks is a tremendous burden. Another teacher described it to me as a forced march. We could never stop and explore a topic in any real depth – I did very few projects, barely used the Internet (other then my Moodle portal), and was always being buried by paper.

Next year will be even better. Another teacher is taking one of the three sections (down from four) and we will closely collaborate on lesson development – strengthening the curriculum.

Better take a few weeks off first.

3 thoughts on “And They Are Off”

  1. 10,000 years in 34 weeks?! I though I had a hard time with Native American regions through the events leading up to the Civil War. I won’t complain anymore….I’m simply not worthy. I hope your students do a great job.


  2. Friday AM my kids took the APUSH exam. What a nerve-wracking experience! I hope your students did well on the exam– we can do all we can to prepare them, but when it comes right down to it, it’s a mix of luck and of the students’ drive to succeed.

    I find myself already planning for next year— how neurotic is that?

    Best wishes to you, and congratulations for getting through!


  3. I can definitely identify with this post. I teach American History, and I know how impossible it is to teach a period of just a few hundred years in nine months. World History? Yikes! I’m also an AP American Government teacher, and my kids took their test last Tuesday. What the last commenter said is exactly right: “it’s a mix of luck and of the students’ drive to succeed.” But it’s hard not to judge yourself by the results of that test. Last year, my kids did quite well, so I was pretty proud of myself. That was a group of very good students, though, and I’m still not sure about the group I had this year. I just hope I don’t end up having to eat a little humble pie.


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