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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blog # 23 Mambo Number Five

From Composite Score to AP Score

The process of score setting—establishing the AP score boundaries (determining how many composite score points equals what AP score)—takes place immediately after the Reading.
AP Exam scores are reported on a 5-point scale as follows:

5  Extremely well qualified*
4  Well qualified*
3  Qualified*
2  Possibly qualified*
1  No recommendation**

*Qualified to receive college credit or advanced placement
**No recommendation to receive college credit or advanced placement
During score-setting sessions (there is one for each AP Exam) composite scores are translated into AP scores by setting boundaries for each score based on a statistical technique called equating.
Equating relates an AP Exam from one year to an AP Exam from another year so that performance on the two exams can be compared. This is accomplished by looking at how well AP students performed on a set of multiple-choice questions that is common to both exams. These particular multiple-choice questions cover the curriculum content and represent a broad range of difficulty; they can therefore provide information about the ability level of the current group of students and indicate the current exam's level of difficulty. This same set of questions may show up on next year's AP Exam and the one after that too. That's why you aren't supposed to talk about or share the multiple-choice questions from the AP Exam with anyone; it's all because of equating!

 This excerpt is found on as seen above. I have been very conscious of the grading of APs for all of the years I have taken them and feel very differently about the grading scale. I have created my own scale and would like to share my thoughts with the world. It is not comparable to whether the student is properly qualified, I honestly believe the five point scale is based off of how much a student actually even cares about "college credits" that do not even count towards most colleges.

I shall begin my quest for mambo number five at the bottom with the 1. This student has no taste for the subject. He/she does not like it and the subject just does not like them. They are the student who got by in the year cheating off of someone or being complacent with that solid B. They honestly walked into the test and opened the book and just began to laugh. No preparation and no caring, but it is commenable that they paid the 87$ just so the AP process can continue and other students such as themselves can fail this test. Hey they don't have to go back to class, and the AP doesn't affect their grades, least they showed up exam day.

Number two is possibly the most unlucky of the bunch because regardless of whether they tried or not, they were that close to passing and pretending they know the subject matter. Hey I got a two on history and knew I didn't deserve the three, but it was pretty upsetting either way. The two presents a student who showed up, probably coasted through the year and put an attempt into the AP exam. They didn't pass, but they tried their best (hopefully) and can at least say "Least I didn't get a 1". Either way getting a 2 does not feel good at all. I'd probably rather get a one so at least I could pretend I answered zero questions.

LUCKY NUMBER THREE, hey they passed! qualified AP scholar right there. Too bad most colleges only accept 4s or 5s on most subject matters, but hey in the eyes of AP you are qualified. Must mean alot. So not much to say about this one except the student studied and put the effort in and maybe just passed. The parents are glad and the kids ain't sad. Its a comfortable score and is comendable because APs stink. PS I'll bet my life that half of these kids guessed and got lucky.

Number 4. This is a kid who studied and put hard effort into the class. Even if they didn't get that all glorifying five, they are pretty damn smart. A four guarranttees that the kid is well qualified. I mean I don't see the difference between a well qualified and extremely well qualified student, but AP has to still put a four down even when they passed with flying colors. You did good kid to get a four, but you ain't the best.

MAMBO NUMBER 5, they are the big cheeses, the brainiacs, the brain children. Sharp kids. probably minimum 94% in said class and are just naturally bright. I would say that most of these kids cared about the test enough to at least review. Also, that alot of them are lucky fours who guessed on those last three questions when time was running out. They are extremely well qualified to forget all the info the day after the test.

The grading needs to be modified to a 'caring' basis. This test does bring in knowledge, but the questions are so broad that it really comes down to who even cares about the subject the most to take the time. My thought is that 4s and 5s be combined and 1s and 2s. A 1,2,3 grading scaled bell curve. AP week better go by fast...


  1. We should talk. I have taught lit/composition in both college and high school, and am not convinced that there is always a direct connection between the grade you earn in the high school AP class, and the score you may achieve on the AP exam (at least in Lit) Does aptitude play into this at all, in your opinion?

  2. I am not saying it is one hundred percent proof, but based off of the St. Mark's students I have encountered a lot of these occurneces seem to be evident. For my lit AP we didn't have an AP class, but everyone passed (for the most part). Mrs. Reilly felt that our aptitudes were high enough to take the test without a regular course teaching the subject all year. I think mental capability does come into effect, but the will to try definitly outways the mental capacity a person is willing to even show or put onto paper.

  3. AP language is definitely a different animal than AP lit, agreed? So--trying becomes more important than brains or aptitude? I think Das Boot has learned a few things about success.