How Useful is Khan Academy AP Exam Practice?
Teens don’t read for class. I came to this conclusion within my first year of teaching and I have never been proven wrong. Many students, even seniors in AP US Government, simply refuse to read textbooks. Drives.me.crazy. No AP teacher, no matter how fast he or she speaks, can possibly cover all the material in the AP curriculum. It’s simply not possible. That’s where the textbook comes in.
As a teacher, I pushed reading. As a tutor, I suggest that my reluctant readers watch lectures on YouTube. Seriously, there are some really good lectures available for free.
This fall, I was excited to see that Khan Academy and the College Board deepened their relationship. Khan Academy is a completely free website that offers free videos and practice for students in many different fields – math, science, English, History, etc. (It’s the bomb.) In 2016, Khan Academy came out with free (and amazing!) review materials for the SAT. In 2017, Khan Academy announced it was the official practice partner for AP as well, adding 9 AP courses to its site.
However, it was not quite what I was hoping for.
AP Exam Practice – Highlights
I examined the AP US History (APUSH) and AP World History exams (my jam and area of expertise) and here’s the awesomeness that I found:
- Hundreds of lessons cover all the required material for the courses
- Khan Academy provides a transcript for each video, which is incredibly useful for English Language Learners and students with disabilities.
- Articles are written at a lower reading level. Many students struggle to understand their college-level textbooks, so this is a big win.
- For teachers, each video or article can be directly linked into your Google Classroom.
Overall, I liked the APUSH course better than the AP World History course. Why? APUSH contains a section on test strategies and lessons on analyzing documents. AP World History dives right into content, but never discusses the AP exam itself. The other thing I prefer is the APUSH narrator, Kim. She clearly loves US History (who doesn’t?) and you can hear it in her voice. The World History video narrator, Sal, can be, well, boring at times. And I love world history, peeps.
AP Exam Practice – Lowlights
Here’s my big disappointment in both these courses, though – there are no practice questions. None. And this is what I was really hoping for. It’s HARD to find high-quality AP-style questions. AP questions have 5 options and are often based on a prompt, such as a short reading passage, map, or political cartoon. Finding good practice questions is like finding a goldmine. You are super excited and want to shout it to the world, but you also want to keep it to yourself.
Khan Academy has practice questions in non-AP courses for US History and World History. Sadly, those questions are much too basic for AP review. So, no practice questions. 🙁
Maybe I was expecting too much? After all, the SAT practice (which is very impressive) is based on a single test. Khan Academy added AP content for 9 tests this year. That’s a lot of work. I’m hoping that AP exam practice will become more robust in the years to come.
[bctt tweet=”Use Khan Academy AP Practice as a supplement to the textbook. ” username=”lptutoringco”]
I recommend that teachers, tutors, and students use Khan Academy as a supplement to the textbook. The site will be especially useful for English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and any of those struggling with the text. It would also be useful for individual review before a unit test. Unless Khan Academy is planning on adding practice questions, though, it’s not that useful for actual exam practice.