Language & Composition

Mr. Eure | Brewster High School

Tag Archives: once more into the breach

Cooking the Books

Before the end of Monday’s class, you must start the grade abatement process by giving me the score you believe you deserve this quarter. If you haven’t already, you will be required to complete the handwritten portion of the rubric. Any other writing you’ve prepared can be submitted tomorrow or over the ensuing week.

Honesty and accuracy are the most important elements of this process.  Many of you are a 6. Some push into a 7, but the particulars are important: 7 indicates an impeccable work ethic, a strong performance in all aspects of the course, a consistent and reliable approach to metacognition, and so on. Did you keep up with regular reflections on what you learned each week? Did you finish your final essay when you needed to? Have you used every single period in class productively? Did you read everything you were told to in the final series of instructional posts? If not, a 7 is hard to justify.

Getting into the 8 and 9 range is obviously even more difficult, yet that’s where most of you want to be. A reliance on scores of 90+ has been bred into you over a decade of formal schooling. We’ve covered the reasons for this—and the deleterious impact of it—enough this semester, but there is one question worth asking again: How do we reconcile honesty and accuracy in grade abatement with a school culture obsessed with grades?

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The Exam, or Avoiding Hadal Implosion

One week from now, your exam in AP English Language and Composition will be a memory. There should be some comfort in that realization; nothing can stop the crawl of time, so you are almost through the gauntlet.

The best way to spend a few of the hours between now and 8AM on Friday is to revisit the folder of practice material we’ve covered over the last two weeks. As you read your essays and study your multiple-choice answers, you are priming your understanding and skills—but you are just priming them, because you can’t easily cram for this exam. You can study rhetorical terms and organizational tools, and it might help to quiz yourself on that; for the most part, however, there just isn’t that much to cram with.

I know that those of you with multiple AP exams and the SAT will spend the next two weeks cramming information into your short-term memory. You’re up against the sort of ineluctable stress of high-stakes testing. Just know that regurgitation like that will not help you very much on the English Language exam you take on Friday. You must instead demonstrate the skills and strengths and knowledge developed over an entire year.

That gives us another possible comfort: At this point, you are who you are as a writer, reader, and thinker. For better or worse, you’re pretty much as prepared right now as you will be when the gun goes off. So you should not stress or panic. You should review the exam format, remind yourself of what you’ve learned, and find your way into the right mindset.

Of course, a few of you will benefit from practice and last-minute strengthening. Part of our student-centric focus in here means that you call the shot at a moment like this. Just don’t overthink or outthink yourself. If you need it, here is a copy of our free-response overview, which contains an overview of the entire exam, plus a score calculator (thank Olivia H. in Period 6 for the tip):

Use that to help focus you, and plan to spend class time conferencing with me or your peers. Meanwhile, get some rest, relax as much as you can, and keep talking this out. We’ll get back into real learning once you’re through the woods. Good luck.