Tuesday, March 12, 2024

AP Lit (and probably a lot of AP Lang as well) - Multiple Choice

 In 2023, someone on the AP Lit Facebook page asked the question of more experienced teachers, what is their advice to students for answering the super hard multiple choice questions on the AP Exam.  The group responded.  I save them all and put them on a Google Doc that you can access here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GUzkI_W7xQYddTmVzdbg1NLaLR_4pdvMacuOkX5UNdA/edit

But, if you just want to pursue a bit, here they all are.  These do not come from me, but from the brains of other talented teachers across the country:

Facebook AP Teachers were asked: “What are your best strategies for teaching how to perform better on the multiple choice passages?”

  • Don’t think—find.

  • Read the passage first with emotional engagement and curiosity. Some students feel like they should just skim the passage to work quickly, but reading with interest makes answering the questions easier. Use marginalia to record your emotional reaction as you read-- for example, put a smiley face next to a funny line, or !!! next to a line that is surprising. This may help you answer a question about tone or detail!

  •  If an answer is partly wrong, it is wrong. Learn common types of wrong answers-- for example, some answers would be right for a different part of the passage, while others contain some words that are right but some that are wrong. Some have roughly the right content but the wrong tone.

  • Right answers are often a little disappointing and limited. They won't say EVERYTHING you want them to say. This is because it's HARD to write an answer that is completely right, so right answers can't necessarily contain the kind of debatable claims that you might make and defend in a rhetorical analysis essay!

  • Practice by analyzing your wrong answers and figuring out what made them wrong. Then, once you've practiced enough, TRUST YOUR GUT! Don't overthink questions

  • Fill in an answer to every question. There's no penalty for guessing, which actually means you increase your score by guessing.

  • POE strategy (Process of Elimination)

  • If an option is partially wrong, it's completely wrong.

  • Read ALL the response options before choosing one.

  • Unless you are 100% sure you made an error, do not change your answer once you've selected it.

  • Choose the “best” answer…one or two might look sort of correct, but which one is best?

  • Usually extreme answers are wrong.

  • Close reading means reading the passage AND the potential answers closely.

  • Try to imagine a group of college board employees sitting around a conference table making up wrong answers and trying to trick you into thinking they are correct answers … try to understand those devious minds! This is what gives their existence meaning! Lol…don’t let them outsmart you!

  • If it's hard for you, it's hard for someone else too.

  • If you don't know, guess, move on, and don't change the answer- first guesses are more likely to be correct.

  • Read the questions before the passage

  • When in doubt, go with your gut

  • If the questions refers to a part/line of the passage, go back to that part of the passage and reread it and a line or two before and after

  • I tell my students to read vs skim- most questions are beyond surface level besides the vocab context in meaning ones.

  • I recommend reading the question and seeing if an answer pops in your head and then finding which one matches, while being mindful of lead distractors.

  • Answer line specific questions before reading the poem/passage.

  • I tell them to think about getting as many points as they can. They don't need to worry about what they're getting wrong. Instead, they need to think about what they're getting right. So, on the first pass through, they just need to get to all the questions and not stop and think about any of them for too long. Then, on the second pass through they can go back to the ones that needed a little more thought. "Easy" questions are worth the same amount as "hard." It's all about the number of total points they can get. I also make sure they know that unless they are one of the very, VERY few who get a PERFECT score, they'll never know how many they missed or WHICH questions they missed, so it's different than taking it in a class.

  • Answer broad/theme questions last--after reading the passage/poem.

  • The idea I talk about the most when it comes to narrowing down the last to answers that are both correct, but one is MORE correct, is that if you have seen a theme or an idea in all of the other responses, that that one answer will also connect to that idea.

  • B is the new C

  • One time I asked my students who consistently scored well on MC if they had tips or strategies to share with others. One kid raised his hand and then responded, "Well, first of all, I choose the right answer." He was dead serious.

  • There’s usually a good answer and a better answer. Look carefully at every word in each potential answer.

  • Oftentimes kids don’t do well on MC tests because they don’t know all of the vocabulary in the questions. This is especially true when the answers are quotes from the passage.

  • Read the questions CAREFULLY

  • Other than practice, the MCQ section is difficult to prepare or improve upon.

  • Use the process of elimination and then take a guess!

  • Consider how you would phrase your answer to a question before looking at the possible answers— this helps you avoid trap answers

  • Find the rightest answer.  These questions often rely on nuances and so there may be several answers that are potentially correct.  Don’t look for the “correct” answer.  Look for the one that is more correct than the others.

  • Partially wrong answers are completely wrong answers.

  • A simple answer doesn’t make it a wrong answer.

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