Expert TA Blog

The Changing Landscape of the AP Physics Exam

The following article from Education Week outlines an important issue that we all need to keep our eyes on. The number of students taking the AP Physics exam doubled this past year, representing the largest single-year growth for any AP course in the history of the exams. This is encouraging in some ways; it is good to see more students active in STEM classes. Less encouraging? The percentage of students who earned a score that qualifies for college credit (3 or higher) dropped over twenty points: from 59.7% in 2014 to 39.2% in 2015*. We want more students taking the exams, but we also want them to do well. This will require everyone re-examining how these students are being prepared.

Expert TA will be throwing its hat in the ring related to this issue, but more on that later.  For now,  enjoy the article.


- The Expert TA Team

* Results from the College Board: 2014 Results and 2015 Results.



Formed from the belief that a homework system should help instructors teach and students learn, Expert TA harnesses the power of technology to encourage practice during homework, while also giving meaningful feedback to both instructors and students. The Expert TA blog was created to serve as a hub of information to help educators track and discuss trends in education, software and student performance.

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  • I like the idea of guiding students, giving them a little more information each time they ask for help. I also think they should get the right answer. I am big about partial credit. If they got a number wrong, they got a number wrong. But I also believe in giving them a lot of credit if they have the right steps. With Expert TA’s true partial credit grading system, instructors can do both.

    Ellen Siem, PhD., Senior Instructor, Department of Physics, Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR
  • With my students, I found that Expert TA was a way for them to help themselves, rather than seeing it as something that is just being assigned so they can get a grade. Initially, I set it up so they lose very little for clicking hints. I also gave them up to 10 different times to submit an answer. They are able to work through a problem on their own rather than being worried that asking for hints would get them a zero.

    Matt Evans, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physics, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire