Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Multiple Choice Practice

I was able to look at my student's AP Stats scores yesterday online.  I have to say that overall I'm pleased; however, there's always room for improvement.  Without seeing the breakdowns, I can only guess that multiple choice scores were the weakest part of the test.  As the year progresses, I seem to worry more about free response and end up dedicating more time to practicing this part of the test.

I usually spend some time at the beginning of the year talking about good test-taking skills, the differences in the AP test sections, and what the test contains.  We also chat, for a few minutes, about reading multiple choice questions and answers; covering up answers and reading them one at a time, throwing out ridiculous sounding choices, looking for answers that are similar, etc.  And that pretty much sums up my multiple choice pep-talk for the year.  Don't get me wrong, we always practice multiple choice and go over wrong and right answers but we spend nowhere near as much time on this as we do free-response.

One of my goals this year is going to be to fix that.  I still want to spend a majority of time on free-response since this is the second part of the test and I want my students to feel confident about it and end on a good note. However, I also do not want them to feel beat after the first part (which is typically the reaction I get).   I want to spend, maybe a half a class period every two weeks, working on multiple choice questions.  So here is one of my thoughts.

Multiple Choice, gallery-walk, error analysis - ish type activity.

Hear me out.

I have a deck of test prep, AP Stats, multiple choice flashcards and I usually copy the front side of about 8 cards onto one sheet of paper for each student.  I give them a set amount of time to read the questions, answer them, and then we go over the correct answers and what was wrong with the remaining choices.  I want to keep the part of pre-selecting questions and distributing them.  From there, I plan to do a gallery walk style answer session.  On my large back whiteboard (which I hardly ever use) I will place the numbers that correspond with the flashcard questions.  Students will have one sticky note per question which they will put their answer on and a brief explanation of why they chose that answer, or simply their work.  Students will stick their answers under the corresponding number then I will allow for students to walk around and read others' answers.  With either dry erase markers or a different color sticky (still working this out) I will have students respond to others' answers or correct mistakes.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Anyone have other ways to practice multiple choice?

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