Slides What Is Distance Learning? What Is Online Learning? How Can They Defer?

Get a direct-access pass to the SHAPE website to hear panelists’ tips on the effects distance learning has on students.

I don’t know about you, but by the time the clock strikes midnight on a Friday, I’d love to have a lot more homework, fewer marks and a lazy weekend in my life. Though I’m not behind, I was curious to take a look at the tracking tools on the Advanced Placement site. Because I consider myself pretty technologically savvy (and since I’m the mother of four little ones, I do everything I can to limit their screen time), I set up the tests to run every Sunday between 6 and 8 PM (Eastern Standard Time).

While most people are already sitting in front of a computer before it goes to sleep, I took advantage of some early-release papers so I’d be able to spend more time with my kids. On the first day, I decided to consult our Slide or Mystery Sinners section of However, rather than ushersingers at the gates, I was greeted by Emily Brown and Cathy Plummer, two independent consultants who both offer customized assessments for students at no cost. Here’s how they explained the problem:

First, you must specify your preferred format. Emily says that the number of questions on the mock exam is not important; she’s looking for students who can interpret what they need to know.

The point of the mock is to see where you stand before the exam so you can draw meaningful connections between the previous day’s test and the upcoming week’s one. And for teachers who use SLAP to prepare their classes, or who use these tests to gauge a student’s progress in a curriculum you know well, Emily says it’s critical to go over the syllabus before taking the mock. Many schools use a set sequence of test questions, so there’s no confusion.

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The next step is to do your work before you take the questions. “Much of the content is familiar to students who are not studying for their final,” Emily says. It’s imperative to go over that material with your instructor or teacher before answering questions, because there may be surprises.

One reason we may not use SLAP is because the questions are typically a bit more arcane than other traditional exams, Emily says. As she puts it, we don’t want our students asking, “What’s this all about? I don’t know.” So maybe it’s best to open the book, read the question, answer it and move on. As Emily points out, it can help to actually show students how they’re doing.

Your key step is to study the excerpt or passage you’ve been given in preparation for the test. It may not be the end-all, be-all you want, but it will give you a chance to learn about it. It may be that the (non-standard) questions are not the ones that show you what you need to know, but you’re still better off since it’s a springboard to take the more challenging questions. I was surprised to learn that on average, the answers that align with each word on the word list in Slides help students memorize 90 percent of the sample passages from the syllabus, Cathy says.

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With a well-structured exam, Cathy says, there’s no reason why you can’t turn in a top score. “And it’s a big one! 805,” she says. Keep in mind, though, that there’s a lot that can happen during the weekend. If you’ve completed all of your homework for the week, you’ve made it harder for yourself. We know from the very first paper that we passed, it would have been impossible to not have learned and absorbed a lot of material by Sunday night.

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