LPS students get a boost with first school district-wide AP exam prep sessions

More than 300 Lincoln Public Schools ninth-grade students got the chance to refine their Human Geography knowledge before the Advanced Placement (AP) exam this spring. 

LPS and Nebraska Wesleyan University invited students from all eight high schools and the school district’s focus programs to a special weekend test preparation session on NWU’s campus for the first time this spring. 

“I was unsure of my abilities to score well on the AP test,” Science Focus Program ninth-grade student Lillian said. “So, I wanted to come to this session to feel more prepared for it.”

The free test prep workshop and transportation were all made possible through the $1.9 million PROMISES grant secured by LPS and Nebraska Wesleyan from the U.S. Department of Education last fall. The grant will also provide free AP exams in U.S. History, Human Geography and American Government for LPS students.  

“We are hoping to give every AP Human Geography student the opportunity to receive a quality prep session regardless of which high school they attend,” LPS PROMISES Project Coordinator Kevin Rippe said.

Rippe and other veteran LPS AP educators spent their morning leading the ninth-grade scholars in various 45-minute breakout sessions. They taught test-taking and studying strategies related to the AP Human Geography exam. Students learned tips including how to handle the multiple-choice questions and which vocabulary words to review.  

“I'm feeling more confident about the test and now I know like what I should be reviewing and what I should be focusing on,” Southwest ninth-grade student Hawk said. 

“I learned some good study tips like making a schedule of what to study and when, which is good because I didn't have any strategies before that,” Lillian said. 

The PROMISES grant aims to remove potential barriers for students to take and succeed in academically rigorous social studies courses. Organizers said this is why they wanted to have these preparation lessons for all students ahead of the exams, especially for ninth graders who would be taking AP classes and the test for the first time. 

“These AP Prep sessions are another way to remove barriers to equity. The AP Prep sessions ensure that every student has access to the extra help from teachers that often makes a big difference on AP exams,” Nebraska Wesleyan history professor Kevin Bower said. “The College Board, which runs the AP program, recommends that prep sessions be open to everyone but that is not always the case in many school districts. We are making sure that we give every student in Lincoln the maximum chance to succeed.” 

Bower is also one of the PROMISES grant project directors along with LPS K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Specialist Jaci Kellison. 

During the prep workshop, the participants had the opportunity to collaborate with other ninth graders – not only building their knowledge but also relationships with peers across the school district. 

“I think that interaction is important so that we can understand, like, these are my peers, they're in the same situation that I'm in so we can see what they know and what I know that we can, like, both learn from each other,” Hawk said. 

Organizers said these opportunities are also key to helping LPS students gain confidence and skills to succeed beyond high school. 

“These opportunities are important for students because success on the AP exam often provides a major boost to students,” Bower said. “Not only does it potentially yield college credit that can help students get a head start on college, but it allows students to develop the confidence that they can and will succeed should they choose to attend college.” 

LPS ninth-grade students weren’t the only ones who had the opportunity to get some extra AP exam help before the tests. LPS and NWU also held another test prep session for AP U.S. History and AP U.S. Government for LPS juniors and seniors later in April. More than 100 students participated in that workshop. 

Students enrolled in AP social studies courses who took the AP exam also increased by more than 30% in 2023-2024. 

To learn more about the PROMISES grant project, visit our social studies website at https://home.lps.org/socialstudies/promises-project/

Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Published: June 6, 2024, Updated: June 7, 2024

AP Human Geography prep in full swing! Dozens of Lincoln Public Schools ninth grade students spent a Saturday morning at Nebraska Wesleyan University Campus, honing their test-taking skills and getting ready to conquer their AP Human Geography exam later this spring.