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If AP Psychology is so easy...

cooljoecooljoe Registered User Posts: 771 Member
edited March 2013 in AP Tests Preparation
then why do less than 20 percent of people make 5's? This is the same case with Environmental Science and Comparative government, on which 9 and 13 percent of examiners receive 5's, though both are considered easy to self-study.

On the other hand, Calculus BC, Comp Sci AB and Physics C have the HIGHEST
5- rates though (at least the latter two) are considered one of the most difficult APs.

Does anyone know why these percentages are so counter-intuitive?
Are the test-takers smarter, or is the curve just easier?
Post edited by cooljoe on

Replies to: If AP Psychology is so easy...

  • puppylover6464puppylover6464 Registered User Posts: 361 Member
    because people think that they're really easy, and so people that normally wouldn't take an AP class take them. and then don't study. and fail.

    on the other hand, only super smart math geniuses take calc BC, and thus they're bound to do well.
  • shrubbershrubber Registered User Posts: 168 Junior Member
    Yeah ^ That is sooo true
    In my psych class there are tons of really ditzy girls who are completely airheaded. And people who take AP Psych thinking since it has the label "AP" it looks good. And then those people fail... miserably..
  • br2011br2011 Registered User Posts: 234 Junior Member
    just a guess but...

    since psych is easier material the raw scores will be higher and therefore there will be more variation. this would make it easier to make a cutoff at a certain target percentage.

    physics on the other hand will have raw scores that are less varied. if the target cutoff for a 5 is say 15% it will be harder to capture exactly 15%. for example say that the 15% mark lies in the 50-51 raw score range. if you cut off at 50 you may only capture 12% of test takers, but if you cut off at 51 you capture 18%. and then after this maybe they round up
  • Kishin M.Kishin M. Registered User Posts: 133 Junior Member
    two words: bell curve
  • shravasshravas Registered User Posts: 2,056 Senior Member
    The people who take Calculus BC, Computer Science AB, and physics C are VERY self-selective, especially since they can just go down a level if it's too hard.
  • rockermcrrockermcr Registered User Posts: 14,670 Senior Member
    two words: bell curve

    One word: No. When people say that AP exams are marked on the curve, they don't mean an actual bell curve. What they mean by "curve" is the amount of points necessary for a certain score. This varies with the test, but has absolutely nothing to do with an actual bell curve. For example, if a specific AP psychology exam is slightly more difficult than the others, the psychometricians (people that make the tests) will know before the test is even sent to schools. They will thus lower the curve, which means that less points are necessary for a 5.

    Now, the real reason for the small amount of students with 5s in those particular exams is pretty simple. They are known for being easy, which encourages many inexperienced freshmen to take it. Also, many people tend to take AP exams just for the sake of taking them, even if they don't care about the subject at all. Obviously, their scores are less than great. Similarly, only extremely motivated and gifted students take the extremely hard exams, like Physics C or Calc. BC. These students will obviously start studying well before the exam, and will earn the score they deserve.

    To put it simply, there's a higher concentration of gifted and motivated students in classes like Physics C than there are in classes like Psychology.
  • cooljoecooljoe Registered User Posts: 771 Member
    I get it now. But it makes me feel a bit intimidated against all those smart kids in Physics and Comp sci...I thought it was just a generous curve.
  • rockermcrrockermcr Registered User Posts: 14,670 Senior Member
    A generous curve in an AP exam is still pretty harsh. Don't worry. If you know the material, and if you study hard, you'll do fine, for sure. AP exams are, for the most part, made in a way that will weed out the kids that didn't study. For example, in a Psych FRQ, using the word "study" instead of "experiment" could easily cost you a point.

    In my opinion, intelligence is only a fraction of what makes a good AP exam score. Most of it is hard work, which everyone is capable of. Good luck!!
  • tomatox1tomatox1 Registered User Posts: 911 Member
    In contrast, AP chinese has more than 70% 5 rate, which says something about the demographics of those involved in the course.
This discussion has been closed.