By Josh Tabor
Like everyone else, I am constantly tweaking the way I teach AP Statistics, including how I manage the crucial time before the exam. In the past, I used to take a fairly passive approach: finish the curriculum with a few weeks to spare, then assign old MC and FRQ questions for homework. If students had trouble on a topic, I expected them to ask me and we would go over it in class. With motivated students, this would probably have worked fine. But with almost all seniors, you can probably guess how much time and effort they put into these assignments.
Now, I am much more intentional with the weeks leading up to the exam. (Thanks, Luke, for the nudge several years ago!) I have tried different approaches, but the thing that has been most effective—and most well-received by students—is splitting the course into smaller chunks during the review period. Because my textbook has 12 chapters, I break it up into 3 sets of 4 chapters. Each week we focus exclusively on 4 chapters, culminating with a final exam at the end of the week that covers only those chapters. By the end of the three weeks, we have covered all 12 chapters and had three finals that, when put together, are equivalent to a complete AP exam. In fact, that is what my final exam is—a complete AP exam split into thirds.*
*Before you start, make sure that the way you split up the chapters will work with a complete AP exam. Focus on the free-response section so that each of your finals will have 2 FRQ. If you can get the FRQ right, the MC usually will split up nicely as well. I like using a complete AP exam so that I can use the published cut scores to scale the final exam scores.
This year, I am using the Stats Medic Review Course as an integral part of my three-week review. In short, I am flipping my class by asking students to do parts of the Stats Medic course at home the night before we cover a topic in class. Then, we will spend the time in class working on old MC and FR questions. I am optimistic that students will do more work outside of class if it is delivered electronically (videos, sample questions with immediate feedback) and more likely to put effort into practice AP questions if they are doing them in class with my supervision.
Here is a schedule showing how this can work. A few comments first:
I have a “deliverable” due the day after each of the Stats Medic assignments. Students need to turn in a list of the AP Exam Tips from the videos (nicely spread throughout the videos so students can’t just fast forward to the end) and their response to one of the FR questions, along with a score based on the rubric provided (most days). If you choose, the Stats Medics have also provided skeleton notes (example here) that students can print, use, and turn in.
The day after a Stats Medic assignment, I give students 1 FR question and a handful of questions from the 2007 MC. I am using the 2007 MC so I don’t have to worry about keeping the items secure. My choices for the FR were based on the chapter we are covering and what items I have already used during the year. I am also including selected investigative tasks (question #6) so that students can get used to working through these longer and less-familiar items.
I actually teach the book out of order (I pair Chapters 3 and 12 together in the second semester and save Chapter 6 until the end of the year), so my actual groupings are a little different than in this table. And I only meet with students 4 times a week. So, if you’d like my 12-day plan, please email me at TaborStats@gmail.com.