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Good luck today AP students

I made this video for my AP Lit students today.

Well, today is the AP Literature exam. I feel just as nervous as my students. No one could have predicted that this year's exam would go entirely online and consist of one 45-minute essay prompt instead of the standard three-hour test with three essays and a multiple-choice section. Illinois AP teachers everywhere needed to retool their teaching in March, and then again in April when they found out that the test would be going to a different format. We had no choice in the matter, and neither did our students.

We prepared them all year in tackling the entire test, in teaching them the critical thinking skills necessary for answering grueling multiple- choice questions, in selecting texts for them to prepare them for the open-ended essay prompt, and exposing them to a diverse array of poets to prep them for the poetry essay. I do not believe that was a waste, as my students loved performing Othello just as much as they loved analyzing African-American poetry. They loved deep discussions into Beloved just as much as they loved figuring out all the love triangles in Twelfth Night.

But it was frustrating for the both of us to learn that none of these concepts would be tested on. I spent weeks in a PD seeking help on how to get students to improve their multiple-choice skills only to be met with a test that did away with it. But as the leader of that PD said, I can always take the skills I learned from there and apply them next year.

I wish my students all the best today as they feel the pressure of yet another high-stakes test, after a long road of high-stakes tests in their k-12 lives. And depending on how many AP tests they signed up for, my test is just one of several they are nervous about.

I wish you, students, all the best. You signed up for this test early in November, believing in yourself. I believe in you. You can do this. And for whatever reason you fail, you fail. You will fail many times throughout life, but your true test is how you respond to failure. Failure does not define you. Your score of 1-5 on the test is just a number. You are more than a number. You are someone who learned how to critically think, how to critically read college-level texts, how to write professionally, and how to discuss logically. It has been a joy having all of you in class.

I believe that you each have the tools to succeed on this essay today, and even if you don't, I believe you each have the tools to succeed in life. So take a breath, relax, and trust in yourself. You got this.

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