Creating A Better AP Test (Part 2): the Proctor’s Dialogue

This is part two of our brief set of posts on how the AP test system could be improved. If you haven’t read the first part yet (about fixing the FRQs), I’d suggest you read that first.

The FRQ section might be bad, but at least it doesn’t come until the end of the test. First comes the half-hour of bubbling, but, worse even than that, comes the required speech.

Now I understand that being an AP test proctor isn’t the most glamorous of jobs. It’s probably somewhere right between “Garbage Collector” and “Speaker of the House.” I don’t expect the proctor to be as happy as an NFL cheerleader, nor as excited as a local news crew that just received some “BREAKING NEWS” about who stole the cookies from the cookie jar (probably the Free Syrian Army).

But when the speech that the proctor must give is about as depressing as running out of gum on a Thursday morning, it doesn’t help things.

For those not familiar with the speech, it goes something like this. Obviously, this dialogue is paraphrased, because possession of any official CollegeBoard document outside of the testing room is an international violation of human rights:

(For re-creation purposes, read this in the voice of that slimy green secretary from “Monsters, Inc.” if possible.)

“Turn to page one on your answer booklet. Do not open your official test packet yet. Take an AP Number Label* and place it in the blue box on your answer booklet where it says ‘Place AP Number Label Here.’ Move on to section A. It says to read the statement. Read the statement. Then sign your name and date. Do not open your official test packet yet. Move on to section B. It says to write the school code. Write the school code. The school code is behind me on the board. Move on to section C. Since you likely can’t read, it says to fill in your name. Fill in your name. Move on to section D. It says to fill in the test start time. You buffoons probably can’t tell time either so I’ll tell you that the test will begin at 8 AM. Do not open your official test packet yet. Move on to section F…”

*to be addressed later. I promise.

By section “J,” you’re usually suppressing a scream that’s a combination of your frustration at being treated like a baby and your hyper-ness from drinking eight coffees that morning.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. No, I suggest we re-write the proctor’s required dialogue to be a cheerful song. Sure, this might somehow aid in cheating on the AP music theory exam, but otherwise it’s a brilliant idea:

(To be sung to the tune of “A Yellow Submarine,” since it’s a song you should know.)

“On page one, your answer sheet
Place a label, nice and neat
Now move on, to section A
Read the statement, sign name and day
Next please shift, to section B
Write the school code, that’s behind me
Then segue, to section C
Fill your name in, then go to D

Make sure that you don’t open your test book
Don’t open your test book, don’t open your test book (x2)…”

Overall, I think stress levels would go down, happiness would go up, and someone would make a killing on the royalty payments. For an extra five dollars an hour, the proctor could even play the guitar while singing. Heck, you’d make the kids not taking the AP test jealous of the party going on inside.

Now we’ve fixed the proctor’s dialogue and the FRQ system, but the atmosphere of AP tests still leaves much to be desired. And you know what that means–we’ll be back tomorrow with a brilliant solution. (Update: you can catch the third part here.)

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