Why is there a common assumption that additional prep is needed?

Why is there a common assumption that additional prep is needed in situations where the just-completed course is supposed to be the sufficient prep for the next course or for a test?

Example here where a high school student who has just completed integrated math 3 honors with an A grade is asking what summer prep to do for precalculus honors:


Other examples include additional prep for AP tests when completing the associated AP course, or additional prep for SAT subject tests when completing the associated high school course. Or high volume prep for the SAT or ACT beyond test familiarization and targeted prep based on weak areas revealed in practice testing.

Are you saying in your area? I think this is common in higher SES areas. Our kids have never prepped for an upcoming class. One is doing test familarization now for the PSAT/SAT. Nothing too serious but lots of focus on timing and reading the questions for tricks. I’ve never heard of kids preparing for classes over the Summer but we know kids who do self study for AP’s or take a college course.

Hi, I just saw your answer on that thread. I agree with you that prep courses seem unnecessary, as usually, the general course of study is supposed to prepare you for the next class. That being said, I also think that some students worry about future classes, especially when they feel unprepared. I’ve never used outside resources myself to prepare for a class, but I also feel like I’m not that kind of learner. With regards to tests, I think test prep is valid because tests are different than just learning content. Many tests are structured in a way that places more value on studying the test itself, rather than the information you’ve learned. AP Exams in particular are not the best test of subject knowledge as a whole. With some exams, it is the way you phrase your answer or structure your essay that gives you point. I definitely see where you’re coming from, though.

More like on these forums, where it is common to see references about prepping for AP and SAT subject tests (beyond taking the associated courses).

I can’t say DD ever really prepped for the next class in a series, but yes, she has done a little extra prep for AP exams and is doing test prep for SAT. There is college credit for high AP scores and possible scholarships for strong SAT scores on the line. In both cases, it has not thus far turned into an all-consuming time sink though.

High school course curricula does not always align with the SAT subject test expectations.

Really depends on the HS. Even though the AP courses are supposed to follow the requirements of the college board, not every school teaches every element of the AP course or covers all the topics on the SAT 2. One example is a local HS (not the one my kids went to) that offered AP Calc BC but told the kids to take the AB test because the course didn’t cover all the BC material and kids did not do well on the BC test. In that instance, a kid that wanted BC credit would have to study on his or her own.

When one of mine took AP Bio, the course had recently changed. If I remember correctly, the teacher suggested the students not take the SAT 2 in Bio unless they were willing to self study because there were topics on that test that weren’t covered in the new AP Bio curriculum.

I have only recommended additional prep in areas where students are struggling. Math and foreign languages are both areas where if you are already behind there are things that you can do over the summer to help you catch up.

If you are already ahead, then I would hope that additional prep is not needed.

Of course some of us are (or were) already ahead in some areas, and struggling in other areas.

My kids never prepped for anything, including SAT’s. The one who did not do well applied to test-optional schools. The other two did fine but I don’t think scores were relevant to admissions decisions (scores made them eligible, other stuff they did was more important though). For state schools, scores are more important, and sometimes scholarships are tied to testing results.

D’s HS always gave summer work. IMO, that’s forced prep ; )

I couldn’t figure that question out, but I didn’t bother responding. I don’t know why someone getting an A in a prerequisite class thinks summer preparation is needed.

That’s the first time I’ve seen that question, so I certainly don’t see it as a “common assumption”.

Prep for AP is just the equivalent of studying for finals. Everyone in college does this, so I don’t see why doing it for what is supposed to be a college level course seems odd. Other HS courses rarely have tests that cover more than the last quarter, usually just the last chapter. So a year-end test that covers the entire year of material is new and I think studying for it makes perfect sense.

Subject tests cover a broad set of material, all of which is unlikely to be covered in any single class - they even state this in the test descriptions. I think it makes sense to study topics that you didn’t cover to maximize a score. My D learned vectors, matrices, and a couple other topics she didn’t cover in PreCalc for the Math 2 test. Her Chem teacher went over the list of topics covered on the subject test and pointed out those that wouldn’t be covered in class.

Yes, CB says scoring accounts for the fact that most students will have questions they haven’t seen, so it’s Ok to miss some. But if you can study those topics on your own, you increase the chance for a higher score. Given the opportunity, I don’t know why you wouldn’t.

My kids never prepped for anything and did just fine.

A lot of the assumptions would be driven by by your background, study habits, and concern (for lack of a better word) over admissions.

APs - if you’ve taken an AP class, the classes are pretty much taught to the test, and teachers use old exams to prep the kids. You could use tutors during the course, but not for the test typically.

Subject tests - Again, if you took the subject tests (or Achievements in my day), you knew that you took it at end of your subject, typically jr year-end, and maybe looked at the old test for the format.

The studying for the next class is more on how concerned you are about admissions. Most kids that get an A or a B do not prep for the next course but I could understand prepping if you struggled in the previous class.

My kid did some prep for ACT but never for school subjects.
I guess part of it is also pressure on some students to perform perform perform, sometimes from the student and sometimes from the parents.

Some kids/families are really motivated by the large merit scholarships that high PSAT/SAT/ACT scores can bring ($).
And it is worth prepping for AP tests if you are choosing a college that is generous with AP credits. Qualifying for as many credits as possible through high AP scores can allow students to graduate early ($) or finish a second (or third) major ($)

My 6th kid (of 7) is now starting college. Our family has cashed in on those score-based merit scholarships and AP credits. We’ve had several NMFs with full-rides, ACT-based full-tuition and 1/2 tuition scholarships, SAT-based 2/3 tuition scholarship, etc.
S#3 was able to have a fully-funded study abroad experience, as well as take his last semester off for a dream internship and still graduate on time. D#2 could’ve graduated after only 5 semesters (due to AP and dual enrollment credits) but is finishing 3 majors in 8 semesters.
Without some heavy duty test-prep–books of SAT/ACT practice tests done at home, and some focused AP prep–we would’ve been paying a lot more to put our kids through college.
Some on CC can boast that their kids qualified for huge merit scholarships without cracking a book. There’s no way of knowing, but for my kids, I firmly believe that the extra test prep made the difference between just missing and just making the cutoffs. It would’ve been foolish not to prep with that much at stake.
Maybe there was a little pressure and competition from their classmates, too, but the main motivation was the $$$.

A good friend’s son took AP courses and received 97 and 98 on the course material yet a 2 on the exams. Many schools do not teach the material necessary to get a good grade.

To me the bigger question is why not prep? Sure, one should not spend hours and hours but a little bit here and there is not a bad thing unless they are doing something else and have zero time.

If a school has a history of 2’s on AP tests, then have your kids take that class online with a reputable online school. We had a teacher who started APUSH with a speech about how they would probably get 2’s. Our concern was not the scores, but the learning. Our kid loves history. She took it online, loved the class and byproduct was a 5. This was better than prepping because she actually learned something long term.

Many kids do not know the history of AP scores in the classes beforehand. It would be very useful if it were published somehow so that kids could see how Teacher X’s students typically do on AP’s.

I meant to add that the AP US history teacher in our school was pathologically lazy. He did not give tests or assign papers. He spent most of the time in class telling stories about himself. He stayed in his job due to tenure, and a long practice of giving A’s no matter what, coaching soccer and taking kids out for ice cream after testing. Mr. Popularity.

One time he used an old exam for a class that had not covered WW II. Half the exam was on WWII. We told the principal. The teacher then made that whole half of the exam for extra credit so everyone did well and noone else complained.

His version of AP was to give my son a paperback book to read on his own. By the time my daughter got there, we opted out of his class and signed up for online (and later raised funds via a local foundation so 25 kids each semester could take online classes, which were so much better than the school.)

We complained and he was actually transferred out of teaching AP classes eventually.

My kids got into great schools despite the school’s mediocrity and culture and learned to take things into their own hands. But they did not prep!

The school knows this since many publish it on the chool profile. It’s an easy question to ask.