3 Review Tests = 1 AP Exam: An AP Exam Prep Strategy


Jeff Eicher teaches AP Stats and Math III at Classical Academy HS in Escondido, CA. He is an AP reader and has served on the Instructional Design Team, reviewing and editing the questions that would later appear as Personal Progress Checks on AP Classroom. He also serves as a NMSI Coach and Content Developer.



After teaching AP Statistics for 10 years, I feel like I’ve reviewed for the AP exam in 10 different ways. Here are a few of my phases:


The “Let the Students Figure It Out” Phase

In the first years of teaching AP Statistics, I was just glad to finish the content without doing too much damage to my students’ statistical souls. I hoped I didn’t skip too many of the difficult topics, such as “blocking” (whatever that is), stratified and cluster sampling, sampling distributions, interpreting P-values, anything about power, and inference for the slope (what do you mean the slope can vary from sample to sample?!)


How did I review then? Give students gobs and gobs of released FRQs and expect that they’ll pore over the scoring guidelines and figure out the nuances of how to earn a partial. I sat at my desk, poring over the FRQs myself, hoping students wouldn't ask something I didn’t know (which means much of the content!)


Like a savvy teacher, I assigned student pairs one of the chapters in the textbook, and had them review it with the whole class, while I sat and watched from the safety of my desk.


The “I Should Probably Assess Them – on Everything, All at Once” Phase

After a few years of teaching statistics and gaining more confidence with the material, I decided I would give several mock exams, testing students on everything, all at once. The AP exam was going to do that, right? Some years I’d fit in three mock exams over 5 weeks. We barely had time to review the completed mock exam before we jumped into the next one.


This phase could also be called over-test-them-so-they’re-exhausted-and-fed-up-with-full-exams-by-the-time-the-real-exam-arrives.


The “3 Review Tests = 1 AP Exam” Model

About two years ago, I realized I’d get better results if I actually tested the students each week on smaller amounts of content. The AP Calculus teacher next door had done this for many years, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. This model takes three weeks. On the last day of each of the three weeks, the students take a Review Test. Combining these three Review Tests makes 1 full AP Exam (40 MC and 6 FRQ).


Here’s the basic idea, on my school’s 4-day schedule:


Week 1: Exploratory Data Analysis, Regression, Study Design

CED Units 1-3

Days 1&2: Reteach and emphasize the most important topics in these units, using 2 released FRQs each day as practice (including an investigative task).

· 2018 #1 grocery line

· 2018 #2 recycling

· 2018 #5 teaching year

· 2014 #1 extracurriculars

· 2014 #6 fuel consumption rate (FCR)

Day 3: Do MCQ practice on these units using questions from a secure exam.

Day 4: Give a test ~13 MC and 2 FRQs, trying to scale the time to fit the class period


Week 2: Probability, Random Variables, Sampling Distributions

CED Units 4-6

Days 1&2: Reteach and emphasize the most important topics in these units, using 1-2 released FRQs each day as practice.

I like the following (but beware of 2015 #6 and 2013 #3, there are tricky parts in those!)

· 2018 #3 lefties

· 2015 #6 tortillas

· 2011 #2 politics/gender

· 2013 #3 eggs

Day 3: Do MCQ practice on these units using questions from a secure exam.

Day 4: Test on ~13 MC & 2 FRQs


Week 3: Confidence Intervals and Significance Tests

CED Units 7-9

Day 1: We review the various intervals and tests with “Which Procedure?” on Larry Green’s website.

Day 2: Reteach and emphasize the most important topics in these units, using 1-2 released FRQs each day as practice:

· 2013 #5 meditation

· 2019 #6 apartments

· 2018 #6 blood pressure

Day 3: Do MCQ practice on these units using questions from a secure exam.

Day 4: Test on ~13 MC & 2 FRQs


Week 4: Day 1

Take a day to revisit all three tests, give the students a scoring sheet, and have them calculate their composite (raw) score, and then convert it to an AP exam score 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (see handout at the bottom of this blog post). These are great opportunities to encourage students that it’s within their reach to score at least one level up: “Pick out 2-3 MC that you can get right next time, pick 2-3 parts out of the total 6 FRQs you did that you can increase from an I to a P or a P to an E.” Use a test corrections page (see handout at the bottom of this blog post) to or