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Topic: Cramming for Advanced Placement Tests
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Cramming for Advanced Placement Tests
Posted: Jun 12, 1998 10:25 PM
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The Charlotte Observer Tuesday, May, 19, 1998

HEADLINE: Web site helps students cram for advanced placement tests

BYLINE: Diego Bunuel, Knight Ridder Newspapers

Web site helps students cram for advanced placement tests

By Diego Bunuel, Knight Ridder Newspapers

It's worse than a final exam, as important as the SATs and it's becoming a
rite of passage into college.

It's the advanced placement test, which thousands of high school students
will take over the next two weeks. The series of tests can give sophomores,
juniors and seniors extra college credit, allowing them to graduate from
up to a year early and save thousands of dollars.

For the first time, students are using the Internet to prepare for the test
and calm their fears. In fact, two seniors from Houston have created The
Great American Cram Web site -- -- to help
classmates prepare for a test that some colleges consider crucial.

``The AP test is a very good indication of where the student is in their
understanding of subjects,'' said Dr. Phil Arbolino, director of the
secondary school program for the College Board, the New York-based
``Colleges feel that advanced placement shows that students can structure
their ideas in essays, unlike the SATs.''

So, the pressure is on and anything that can help produce better scores is
bought, attended or read.

The Great American Cram, developed by Ron Urwongse, 18, and Daniel
Liebling, 17, lets students review U.S. government and history, economics,
calculus and biology. It provides the same type of information that most
books do -- mock quizzes and course outlines -- but also offers audio files
of teachers' lectures, chat rooms and database searches.

The site has received more than 3,000 hits since its inception last July,
and has caught the attention of students at Palmetto Senior High School in
Florida. In the school library last week, six juniors from an advanced
history class could be found hovering around the computer, studying the site.

``Usually what you find on the Internet doesn't correspond with what you
study in class,'' said Adam Barnett, 17, a junior at Palmetto who is
studying American history during the Cold War. ``But this one does. It's
really good.''

For Meredith Chin-Sang, one of Barnett's classmates, the site offers
another advantage.

``I buy review books that each cost up to $20 to study for these tests,''
said Meredith, 17. ``Going on the Internet is less expensive and they have
the same thing as the books do.''

Liebling and Urwongse donated more than 3,000 hours to develop the site for
their Houston school, Cypress Falls High. With the help of their U.S.
government teacher, Janice McNeil, they developed an interactive outline
students can look up just about anything related to the tests.

Need information about the Great Depression? Click on the history link and
choose the ``Lecture Hall'' to hear a teacher's lesson. Test what you've
learned with a multiple-choice quiz, then try to put together a cogent
response to a tough essay question.

``The real beauty of this site is the interactivity of what we offer,''
said Liebling. ``Originally the site was to serve only our school but now
we went global.''

Indeed, Liebling and Urwongse have set up their own company, Premiere Web
Design, and are creating business Web sites.

The Great American Cram is not likely to replace the classroom experience,
said Palmetto High history teacher Darrell Christie.

``There is no proof that putting computers in every classroom leads to
excellence,'' Christie said. ``I want to teach ideas that might not exist
on Web sites, but in books.''

Liebling agrees: ``The teacher connects the ideas together.''

But he puts in a plug for Great American Cram: ``The site connects those
ideas with people.''

At Hollywood Hills High School, Frank Gulla, a calculus teacher, said most
of the 150 advanced placement students have spent five weeks preparing for
the exams.

``I don't think that they are scared because the test is part of their
curriculum,'' Gulla said. ``But what they fear most are the essay questions
that count for 50 percent of the test. Unlike the SATs, you have to justify
your answers.''

Arbolino, the College Board director, said the Internet is changing the way
students prepare for the test.

``It gives them the ability to search vast databases and build on their
knowledge,'' he said. ``They need to be well prepared because advanced
placement tests are crucial.''

(c) 1998, The Miami Herald.

Visit The Miami Herald Web edition on the World Wide Web at

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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