Tips for using AP® Classroom

AP®  Classroom is a new, powerful tool that the College Board has provided for teachers and students this year. I used many aspects of the program with my students this year and these are my tips.

Note: These tips are for both in class and at home with the COVID closures. Read this document from the College Board about AP® updates and using AP®  Classroom with students at home.

Assigning Personal Progress Checks (PPC) and Your own Practice Exams on AP® Classroom

  • PPCs are a great formative assessment tool. Use it in this way and not as a summative device since every AP®  student in the world may potentially be answering the same questions and kids talk to each other. You may give completion credit, however, to students for doing the PPC.
  • If you are not following the order of the Course and Exam Description (CED), create your own progress checks/practice exams by choosing “formative” questions from the question bank and the unit/topics you want to assess. Click “Formative” under question type. Some of these will be the same questions in the personal progress checks, but not all. 
  • Assign a PPC free response question (FRQ) only if you do not have time to personally grade it. The same goes for an FRQ in a practice exam that you create. You have to go in and individually grade them before they can see the results. If you create a practice exam with multiple choice and FRQs, the students will not be able to see any results (not even the MC) until you grade the FRQ. Put a practice FRQ in a separate assignment.
  • Students have to finish all the questions on any assignment in AP®  Classroom before seeing any results. If you want them to be able to go back in immediately to check results, when you assign the exam click “let students see results”. If you want to wait until everyone has taken the PPC or other assignment, you can go back in to the assignment and click the button.

Giving Exams on AP® Classroom using the Question Bank

  • Choose “Perfect” or “Strong” questions in the question bank as these most closely match the new CED. 
  • Check your FRQs before assigning. In some FRQs, students have to solve a problem on paper (math, graphing, etc), take a picture and upload to the FRQ. This will require you helping students through this and may take a long time to problem solve with students. Your school computers may have a camera students can use, but many will not know how to use, save a picture and upload. If students use their phones, it creates test security issues for you. Practice first with these types of FRQs on a PPC with students before assigning in a real exam.
  • To print a paper test instead of giving an online test, click “paper test” when you assign it. It will then send you to the next screen where you can download a PDF the printed test. It does use a lot of paper and has an odd format where some questions begin on one page and end on another. If you have time, use the “snipping” function on your computer to cut and paste into another document where you can place the questions into a table. It is also feasible to develop two versions of the test this way. This video tutorial by Bella Vasquez explains how to do it.

BIG NOTE: Do NOT share a PDF of any questions digitally with students-this is a copyright violation. Students can and do download and share publicly on the internet.

  • Allow extra time when doing online tests. AP®  Classroom is sometimes very slow to log into and sometimes kicks a kid out of a test and they have to log back in. I find this problem is mostly due to slow Wifi at the school. This can delay a test by about 10 minutes. When I give an online AP®  Classroom test, I reduce the amount of questions to allow for a 10 minute delay. So, for example, in a 55 minute class period, I assign 25-30 multiple choice (MC) and FRQ when normally I would give 35-40 MC and one FRQ on a paper exam.
  •  When giving an exam in your physical classroom, It is helpful to have a “backup” FRQ on paper if your Wifi is crowded and AP® Classroom is loading slowly. Students might run out of time. Wifi is not usually not slow all day so only 1 or 2 of my periods (out of 5) may need a backup paper FRQ. Students can begin answering the paper FRQ while they wait for the multiple choice to load.
  • Do not put “secure” questions from practice exams in an assignment if you do not want or cannot use the College Board’s “lockdown browser”. This is a requirement if you use these questions. Even one question in your exam from a practice exam requires the “lockdown browser”. Those questions have a special shield symbol so you can avoid them when making an exam.
  • A timed assignment does not cut the kids off when the time is up. But it will tell you if the student went over time and you can penalize them or not. If a student is having trouble with questions loading more slowly than other students, I will not penalize them if I see that they took 35 minutes instead of the max of 30 minutes on an exam. You can also privately tell students that you will allow them extra time if they have an IEP or 504 plan. You don’t have to do anything to allow the extra time-just tell the student they can go over the allotted time by ___ minutes. 
  • During the COVID remote learning time, do give extra time in the “opening” and “closing” dates and times. Some students will have trouble logging in on time due to Wifi problems, slow connections etc. For example, If you program 30 minutes for your exam, open and close the exam between 9AM and 10:30AM. For better security, tell the kids the exam will open at 9AM and they have 30 minutes. That way some kids will not choose to do the exam later (like at 10AM) after getting answers from a friend. 
  • In my school, sometimes the regular Wifi is crowded so switching to “guest” wifi helps load AP Classroom faster. During the COVID remote learning time, if students are having trouble with connections, recommend switching Wifis (if they have more than one), or using data. 
  • Do try to create an alternate exam (with some different questions) or at least an alternate FRQ for kids testing late.
  • Make sure you did NOT click to “let students see their results” until all students have taken the exam. Then you can go back into the exam and click this button. 

Videos on How to Use AP®  Classroom

Use these videos provided from the College Board to help you learn how to use AP® Classroom.

For more exam information:

Read to find out various ways to Review for the AP® Exam

Learn what my post-exam surveys indicate about: What Do Students Think is Best for AP® Exam Review?

The 2020 exam has changed, but we can use past data to help us know how close students are to passing the AP® Exam: AP® Released Exams, Score Predictions, & the Final Exam “Curve”

The AP® Exam requires students to use higher level thinking skills called Science Practices. These skills need just as much focus as content. Read how the last released exam in 2016 had more of these questions: APES Exam and Bloom’s Taxonomy/Depth of Knowledge

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