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GUSD students continue prepping for AP tests online

A service called Shmoop helps prepare students for AP, college entrance exams.

July 25, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Glendale Unified officials have decided to continue using an online program that has become increasingly useful to students who are using the system to prepare for Advanced Placement and college entrance exams.

Named Shmoop after the Yiddish phrase for "moving something forward," more Glendale students are tapping the resource than ever before to prep for exams that factor heavily into college admissions.

Glendale Unified first used the Shmoop website in the 2011-12 school year to provide students with practice exams and study topics to review.

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That year, 653 students practiced more than 1,400 exams on the site, reviewed more than 4,700 subjects and completed more than 9,000 drills tied to AP subjects in U.S. history, European History, biology and psychology.

Five times as many students accessed the online portal during the last school year, with 3,260 of them spending 9,623 hours using the program and taking more than 6,200 practice exams, officials reported.

"It's the direction of the future of 21st-century learning skills," said Assistant Supt. Lynn Marso.

Using various study guides on the website, students can watch videos that use animated characters, graphics and pop culture references to explain classic literary texts or mathematical principles.

In one video, a circular character named Sir Cumference explains the radius and diameter of circles.

Glendale educators anticipate another steep increase in the number of students who use the program in the coming school year and plan to study the data to see what impact it is having an AP success rates.

At Hoover High School alone, more than 1,000 students used the website last year, followed by 816 at Glendale High, 748 at Clark Magnet and 576 Crescenta Valley students.

Most of that time — 65% — was spent preparing for AP exams. Nearly 20% of the time, students were preparing for the high school exit exam, while prepping for the SAT and the ACT took up 4% and 3% of their time, respectively.

The Glendale Unified school board last week approved a $40,000 contract with Shmoop to give students access to the content through June 2014.

"This is definitely a step in the right direction to help students be prepared for the many different tests they are required to take," Marso said.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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