TEST TALK: Junior advises AP chemistry students to do more than memorize equations

The Octagon will be running Q&A’s with students taking AP exams over the course of the next two weeks, May 4-15. AP exams, which are more than three hours long, are graded on a scale of 1-5 (5 is the highest.) Exams include a multiple-choice section and a free-response section.  Junior Keaton Ochoa took the AP Chemistry exam on Monday, May 4. 

Q: Overall, how’d the Chemistry AP go?

A: I think it went pretty well. I took three practice tests, which really prepared me.

Q: Do you think you were in the minority?

A: I think some people just weren’t prepared because it was definitely manageable. It’ll be awkward if I get a 2 on it, though.

Q: Was it harder than you thought it’d be?

A: It was easier. The multiple choice was harder because there were topics on it that we had never seen before, but the free response was a lot easier because there were problems we recognized. There were a couple with diagrams that represented things in ways that we weren’t familiar with. They did it on purpose, obviously.

Q: How did you study?

A: (Chemistry teacher Joe Tellez) gave us a lot of material packets, so I ran through those.

Q: What do you think you got?

A: I got at least a 4, but I think it’s possible that I got a 5.

Q: Any curveballs?

A: No. Aside from the odd multiple choice once in a while, there wasn’t anything that was too big of a deal.

Q: Do you wish you’d prepared differently?

A: I probably would have started preparing earlier because the majority of what I’d done was on (the Sunday before the exam). I think it’s better to spread that 10 hours over a week.

Q: Do you think the test is a good measure of chemistry knowledge? Is it fair?

A: I think in general (it’s good for chemistry), but for the free response it’s kind of hit or miss because there are just seven questions. If you get lucky and you get something you already know, you can knock it out of the park. But if you don’t know the concepts, then you might bomb it. It doesn’t test a broad knowledge of everything, but I don’t know how you’d fix that.

Q: Did that make the free response difficult to study for?

A: Yes. What I did was just went through previous year’s tests and did the problems. But maybe I just got lucky. I could’ve gotten (a problem) that I just didn’t know how to do.

Q: Any advice for future AP chem students?
A: Really try and understand the deeper concepts of what you’re learning, and try to relate those concepts with other things that you’ve learned. That’s the main thing with this test. If you just memorize an equation, it will get you through the calculations, but you have to understand what led to that equation. On the test, they are constantly linking things together from concepts that you already know.

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