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Advanced Placement tests: Decision maker of what college courses students may or may not have to take; seemingly synonymous with stress and anxiety. However, one particular teacher at Red Lion consistently does a good job of putting student’s minds at ease when it comes to the AP Calculus test.
Head of the math department and AP Calculus teacher, David Hively, has a highly commendable track record regarding the types of scores his students receive on the exam year after year.
On a scale from one to five, one being the worst and five being the best, any score above or including a three is considered passing. According to the Total Registration website, about 24.4% of students score a five, nationwide. 17.4% score and four and 17.6% score a three.
“Over the last couple of years, I would say, at least 50% of my students will get a five, who take the test,” Hively said. “As far as the average score goes, the national average score is around a two point nine. My students usually score above a four, and that’s all of the students who take the test.”
All of this success doesn’t just happen randomly however. Over the years, Hively has developed an almost systematic method to figuring out which types of problems his students will see. Almost outsmarting the system, if you will.
“The one thing that’s nice about the AP Calculus exam is that, there is a limited number of questions that they can pull from. So there are certain questions that we expect every year. As far as guessing what questions go on there,” Hively said, chuckling, “I will do that on occasion and for a while there were some patterns, I thought, where certain questions would occur every other year. I do think the college board has done a better job of being more unpredictable.”
In addition to citing patterns and deducing which problems will be seen, Hively also goes above and beyond to make sure his students are even more prepared than knowing just the standard curriculum.
As far as calculus goes, the course is divided into two sections; AB and BC. Red Lion offers exclusively AB however, and does not have a BC class available to the students. That being said, most AP Calculus exams overlap between the two, including some of the BC material in the test in addition to AB.
To be certain that this never causes an issue for his students, who work extremely hard in his regular AP class, he offers extra classes throughout the year where he teaches them the BC material that they might see on the exam.
“I am certified for AB, but BC is everything in AB, plus an extra four chapters of material.” Hively said. “So they basically have to learn a lot of that stuff in addition to the AB, and if they pass, they get more college credit.”
As one could assume, this type of over the top teaching, coupling with the over the top score averages, has earned Hively recognition and praise throughout the years.
“When I first started teaching the AP test, the very first day when teachers came back the following year, the superintendent would have all of the AP scores on the screen for the entire district. And being the competitive person that I am, I wanted my Calculus scores to be higher than US History or Physics or whatever.” Hively said jokingly, “So there was a little bit of an external drive there.”
His external drive has indeed worked its magic, the proof being in the outstanding scores that come back after testing each year.
“It’s like practicing for a big game.” Hively said. “We practice all year for one day’s test, and all the practice we do all year long pays off.”