I'm struggling with instruction

I’m really anxious about the AP test in May. My students are doing well with the Code.org lessons and the projects, but when it comes down to doing the assessments, they are not doing well. I’ve given the progress checks and gone over questions and how to break them down, but nothing seems to be clicking. Is anyone else having this issue or had this problem? This is my first time teaching this AP class, and I feel lost on how to help them. Any suggestions?

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Hi Michael,
There is definitely a gap between being able to write code that you can test and debug versus reading code in multiple choice questions. Some ideas to help prepare your students as we get closer to the AP assessment:

  • I try to bring in sample multiple choice problems from AP classroom as warm ups and “cool downs” at the end of class if we have extra time. I model things like anytime I see an array, a String or a list, I write the index numbers under it right away.
  • I also like to do small group “look backs” on the unit assessments, and the AP classroom progress checks. I print out the most commonly missed problems, and have small groups each take one or two, and write up an explanation that gives an in depth overview of why the answer is what it is. They then share out their solutions.
  • I give some small group or partner multiple choice quizzes. This helps students to talk through the problem instead of seeing a of of code and guessing. I sometimes make the start of a trace table to help students get the idea of what to do for complicated loops.
  • Unit 9 of the curriculum has a good review approach. I am making sure to give the full amount of time to Unit 9, and am cutting/ shortening from unit 7 and 8 as we get into the AP prep crunch time.

What do others on the forum do to help build test taking skills? Please reply!



@tedesco.michael - Lindsay shared some great ways to have your students interactively practice coding. I use some similar activities:

  • Daily Practice Review - I have the students review the Extra Practice worksheets in pairs and ask one pair to share with the class.
  • AP Classroom Videos - I assign these as homework and ask the students to submit a summary of the video including at least one concept that was reinforced and one that was clarified.
  • FRQ - I have my student work on writing code using the FRQ activities in Code.org and the AP Classroom FRQ questions. I also use this website that contains previous AP Exam FRQ questions with answers explained.
  • Exit Tickets - A great way to check-in and “reteach” any concepts that may still be fuzzy for your students.

Hope these help. Keep up the good work!


@lindsay.davis and @sylvia.wood, I always love hearing from master teachers such as yourselves. Thank you for the wonderful ideas! @tedesco.michael, I can definitely empathize with what you are seeing. One activity I’ve done in the past is have student write an assessment question. They have to provide me with the multiple choice options and indicate which one is correct. Generally students will either make up or go find a question that they are able to do. This allows me to see what they are comfortable with and move them along from where they are at.

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