App helps students prepare for AP exams

Starting Mar. 1, students taking Advanced Placement (AP) Human Geography will have a chance to study for the AP exam in a different way—by using an application designed specifically for AP Human Geography.

The app, iScore5, was developed by a group of teachers and two students, including Greg Sherwinw, AP Human geography teacher, and Sonia Doshi ’12. Sherwin, who had been thinking about writing a Human Geography workbook, realized that apps were where technology and learning were going. After talking to his colleagues, Paul Gray and Ken Keller, in other states and seeing that they agreed with his idea, he had a feeling he was onto something, but then came the question, how does a group of teachers create an educational app? That’s where Doshi came in.

Doshi, who is currently studying user experience design, visited Sherwin last year. During their conversation, Doshi mentioned what she was studying and the idea of former students working with teachers just made sense, Sherwin said. Doshi and one of her classmates, Greg Azevedo, soon teamed up with the three teachers and began working on developing the app.

“Yes, it’s test prep, but it’s a way to make it more fun,” Sherwin said.

To make the app as helpful as possible and to prepare students for the exam, test writers were hired to create hundreds of questions for the game that correspond to each of the units Human Geography studies as well as vocab. There are five levels with seven rounds per level.

“Each level is equivalent to a score on the AP exam since the questions get harder as you progress, so after completing the first level, that’s like getting a one and so on,” Doshi said.

The app is designed similarly to apps such as Candy Crush and Cut the Rope, where the player has to unlock the levels before he or she can move on. There’s also a leaderboard that displays all those who played the game as well as an option to send your progress to your teacher.

“It’s a way to study informally ahead of time and realize what you’re confident in and what you need to study more of,” Doshi said.

For AP Human Geography student Sarah Park ’17, the idea of an app to help study sounds more appealing than the use of note cards or reading notes over, and with an app, there’s more initiative for students to begin studying earlier. Students enjoy competitive games, such as Kahoot!, because they’re more enjoyable and offer a fun way to review the information, Park said.

For most students taking AP Human Geography, it’s the first AP course they’re taking at Stevenson, so the app might give them a better idea of what to expect on the AP exam, Sushmetha Subramanian ’17 said. With it being an app, it’s a more convenient way to study because it can be taken anywhere, Subramanian said. Subramanian also believes many students enjoy trivia games, and it’s a format that works well for AP Human Geography since there’s a lot of facts and events to learn and remember.

While there have been some challenges along the way when it came to the legal aspects and the business side, Sherwin explained that overall it has been more pleasure than pain, and while it has been frustrating at times, it has also been very enlightening.

Doshi echoed this by sharing that another challenge was the fact that everyone couldn’t meet face to face since they’re in different parts of the country, but that didn’t stop them from constantly communicating ideas and working on the progress of the app.

Sherwin and Doshi are both unsure of what will happen in the future in regards to whether or not they’re looking to expand beyond AP Human Geography with their app. Right now, they’re focusing on the release of this version and making sure it takes off.