National Council for Geographic Education

Top Ten Ideas for Teaching APHG to Ninth graders


Helping Ninth graders prepare for the AP Human Geography Exam, 2nd edition
By Sharon Shelerud

May 17th is just around the corner. Teachers and students are now in exam preparation mode. (Some may even be in a panic mode, but there is still plenty of time, so there is no need for that.) Below are ten ideas to help your students prepare for the exam. Students need to know IF they put the effort into it, they can do well on the exam.

1. A month to a month and a half prior to the exam, tell students to review the vocabulary terms and geographic models. I tell students to review for 10 - 15 minutes each day using their vocabulary flashcards. This quick exercise will help them to refresh their memories of the terms and will help to build their confidence in doing well on the exam.

2. Give short (ten question) formative vocabulary assessments every few days. This helps to reinforce the flashcard reviews you have asked them to do at home.

3. Strongly encourage students to purchase/borrow an AP Review book. Besides reading the book, ask students to review the questions at the end of each chapter to see what they remember. Once they have a good idea of the units/concepts they are strong and weak in, they will be able to determine how to study for the exam.

4. Have individual meetings with each student to share with them what you see as their strengths and weaknesses and give them some suggestions on how to study for the exam. This year, I have a large number of students who are not writing enough detail in the Free Response Questions (FRQs). I have given those students extra writing exercises designed to help them add detail to their responses.

5. In class, format discussion questions as FRQs to help students to organize their responses on the exam.

6. Start each class with a model (geographic) of the day. Students should be able to identify the model, explain it and apply it to a real world situation. This could be done as individuals, pairs, or in small groups.

7. Before/after school review sessions are essential. I hold one per week until ten days prior to the test, then I hold one every night after school. I encourage students to create their own study groups and meet on a regular basis. This year, my students are very slow to create study groups, so I am sharing that idea with parents and posting it on my website every week. Former students have told me the after school review sessions and study groups really helped them prepare for the exam.

8. Use Wall Wisher, Moodle or Google docs, etc. to post questions or terms for students to answer and require students to post their answers. Set up a system so that the third person to answer will then post the next question or term. Setting this up like "popcorn" helps to encourage more students to be involved.

9. Spend about ten class periods reviewing for the exam. Provide mini unit tests, games, flashcards, group and quiet study time. I usually divide the class period into time slots and work through two (or three) different ways to study each class period. I also set my room up with stations so students are getting up and moving around about every 20 minutes.

10. Be positive!!! Build their confidence. They need to know you believe in them and IF they put the time and effort into preparing for the exam they can pass!!!