Archive for the ‘Test Preparation’ Category

The AP Test is HERE!!!

Cold War Reenactors

Now, don’t be like that!

THIS is  a TEST!

You’re NOT going to BOMB it if you studied!

It’s going to be a BLAST!

You don’t need to duck and cover!

Get out from under there and go get ’em!

Weird group names in US history

Weird Group Names in US history

Who ARE these people?

Molly Maguires
The Weathermen
Buffalo soldiers
Cold Water Army
Boll Weevils
Blue Dogs
Yellow Dogs
Coureurs des Bois
Cult of Reason
Gibson girls
Bobbin Boys
Grand Army of the Republic
Lame ducks
Lucy Stoners
Midnight judges
Money trust
Code Talkers
Old Lights
New Lights
Old Guard
New Guard
Conscience Whigs
Silent Majority
Sons of Liberty
Daughters of Liberty
Suzy Bs
Tammany Hall
Tweed Ring

Tips for Taking Multiple Choice Tests: Test Writing Strategies That are Evil

You can download a copy of the entire set of tips here:Tips for taking Multiple Choice Tests

And finally, a word (okay, lots of words!) about the psychology of testing:

  1. Notice how the test itself is constructed based on the pattern of question item difficulty. On standardized tests, there are usually FOUR levels of difficulty for the multiple choice sections: rather easy, somewhat easy, rather difficult, and very difficult. Many standardized tests are also tests of your endurance and mental toughness. The test writers will sometimes deliberately organize these four types of questions according to certain patterns:

Strategy 1: Start with mostly easy questions and get progressively harder with the most difficult questions at the end. They may throw in a hard one here or there, but the general pattern is progressive intensity.
Solutions: Make sure you use your time wisely, and pace yourself, because this will wear you down once you get past the halfway point unless you remember to use the other strategies mentioned above.

Strategy 2: Create subsets of progressively difficult questions to slow you down and make it harder for you to finish the test. This strategy also means that if you are not time conscious and allow yourself to get bogged down, you will miss out on answering some easy questions later in the test, which would have boosted your score. So here’s how they do this: Say you are taking an 80 question test. They will create ten groups of 8 questions, with the first two questions rather easy, the next two a bit harder, the next two somewhat difficult, and the next two very difficult. Then the pattern will begin again. The overall strategy is to make you obsess over the harder ones, and slow down.
Solutions: Use the strategies above, but if you can’t find the answer within 30 seconds or so, skip that question and go on to the next one. Make sure you get through the entire test, answering all those easier ones, and then go back and attack the harder ones. But be mindful of the time! Also make sure you don’t get off track in the bubbling of your answers.

Strategy 3: Start off with difficult questions and get progressively easier. Once again, they are trying to break you psychologically and make you give up. Once you start panicking, you will miss questions you normally would have gotten right because your brain is being flooded with panic signals. You may even stop recognizing easy questions.
Solutions: If this seems to be the case, try starting from the back of the test and working backwards from there. Or try going to the middle of the test, working forward to the end, and then working backward toward the front. But whatever you do, don’t just sit there and allow yourself to get freaked out. Remind yourself that you have got this, that you have prepared, and that you laugh in the face of their pitiful little ploys. Sneer, and move on.

Strategy 4: Start off easy, and then bam! in the middle drop in the hard questions. They’re trying to do the same thing that I described in strategy 3—make you panic and give up.
Solutions: Once you realize this, you don’t have to waste a lot of time trying to figure out where the nightmare section ends. Skip to the end and work backward from there. Remember to keep track of the time, and don’t let one or two or five questions suck up all your time.

Tips for Taking Multiple Choice Tests: The Test

You can download a copy of the entire set of tips here: Tips for taking Multiple Choice Tests


1. Do NOT psych yourself out.

If you believe you have a mental block on multiple-choice tests, you will certainly have that mental block. If you believe you are going to fail, you have just made that very thing much more likely. Panic actually bathes your brain in chemicals that slow or halt its functioning. Breathing brings oxygen to your brain. So BREATHE!

2. Look over the test and pace yourself.

If there are 15 items on a math test, and you are given 90 minutes to do them, you obviously have roughly 6 minutes per item. Look over the test, and do the easy ones first. This will not only now make the test size more manageable in your mind, it will also boost your confidence and help you manage time better. It will also give you more time per remaining item! If you can, give yourself a few seconds’ break within the test time to take a breath and refocus.

Try to leave time for review before the test period is up. Give yourself a brief 15-30 second break where you clear your mind and think of something relaxing before you do this to clear your head.

3. Read each question thoroughly.

Read the question BEFORE you look at the answers. Come up with the answer in your head, and THEN look at the choices.

Look for key words such as NOT, ALWAYS, EXCEPT, ALL OF THE FOLLOWING… BUT, etc. They may not be capitalized, so make sure you slow your eyes down. Underline them or circle them so that you notice them.

4. Read each choice carefully.

Do not operate by instinct. You will overlook key words or get caught by a distractor or a partially right answer.

Read each choice. Did you find the obvious right answer? GREAT! If not, make sure the answer you choose answers the complete question, especially if you get down to one of two possible right answers.

5. Pretend that each choice is a true or false statement, and choose the statement that is most true.

Rephrase the question with the answer you chose as a statement. Ask yourself: is this true?

6. Use your knowledge of vocabulary to eliminate wrong answers.

If a question is asking about water, and you know hydro- is the Greek root for water used in a possible answer, that may very well lead you to the correct answer.

7. Remember, the right answer is there!

Eliminate the obviously wrong answers. If you don’t see it, and you have prepared completely, then you are probably misreading either the prompt or the choices. Reread.

Eliminate obviously wrong answers. These are called “distractors” for a reason.

8. Most multiple choice questions involve either simple recall, cause/effect, or comparison.

9. DO NOT CHANGE YOUR FIRST ANSWER unless you discover that you have misread or misunderstood a question.

10. Guess rather than leave an item blank.

There is no penalty for guessing on my tests, but a blank is a wrong answer without question.

11. If you see “all of the above” as an option, check to see if you can find two answers you are certain that are right. If you do not find this, all of the above is the answer, or the test authors have screwed up. It happens. Get over it and move on.

Test Taking Strategies for Multiple Choice Tests: Studying

You can download a newly revised copy of this here: Tips for taking Multiple Choice Tests


1. Organize the material in your head as you learn it:

Learning Process:
1. What do I already know about this topic?
2. What is the BIG PICTURE?
3. Use your material in different ways. Here are some of the common TYPES of test item questions by task:

What is the definition of this?
What is an example of this?
What are the different types of this?
What is this related to?
How is this significant?
What else is this like?
What caused this/ What happened because of this?
Who did this?
Why/When did this happen?
What is the pattern or trend?


2. Take good class notes, and study them carefully! BOIL IT DOWN TO THE ESSENCE!

Before the test, paraphrase and summarize your material. Make flash cards of the specific terms, which are lower level thinking (basic recall) items. Organize your information according to topic or time period, in the case of history class. Make a picture mentally, if you can.

Create a hook for remembering the information: When you are 18, you can’t drink legally– the 18th Amendment outlawed alcohol sales and consumption in the US. When you are 21, you can legally drink–the 21st Amendment legalized the sale and consumption of alcohol again.

Fit this new knowledge into the framework of previous knowledge. Ask yourself: How does this relate to what I already know?

3. Increase your vocabulary throughout the year, and

use the internet to look up terminology specific to the content area you are getting ready to be tested over. For instance, I had to take a test that included a section on microeconomics, which I had not studied in several years. Plus, I only found out I had to take this test two days before it was given. So I went onto the internet and searched for “microeconomics terminology” and “microeconomics glossary.” I then studied off those lists and definitions. I then recognized and understood almost every term used in that section of the test when I actually took it.

4. Pay attention to the subareas or themes on the test. For instance, in AP US history, search for “AP US history themes” and you might find something like, say, this document. Then make sure that you study the themes which are your weaknesses.

5. Space out your study time.

Say you’ve got 2 hours to study for a test. It is better to study for thirty minutes in the four days prior to the test than for two hours in a row. For the AP Test, you need to start studying weeks before the actual test.

6. Eliminate distractions.

Turn off the cell phone, the TV, Facebook, etc. PUT THE CELL PHONE IN ANOTHER ROOM! Concentrate on the task at hand and really devote yourself to it. It is better to study for twenty minutes with concentration than to spend two hours watching Jersey Shore with the book open in front of you. Be honest—you haven’t studied at all at the end of those two hours, but you have become an expert on how dumb Snooki really is.

7. Familiarity breeds huge gaps of knowledge.

Have someone else choose practice questions for you—you can do this online by using AP review sites, or you can have someone else quiz you. If you choose the items to study you will gravitate towards material you are familiar with. You can’t study what you do not know that you don’t know. Yes, read that again—it makes sense.

8. Study in simulated test conditions. REHEARSE!

Early on in your preparation, study by yourself. Later on, study with a partner or a group. During that time, you should be quizzing each other and discussing the reason why you chose certain answers on practice items. Right before the test, give yourself some simulated questions that your study partners have chosen (see 5) and then check them for accuracy.

9. Study backwards.

Study the latest material you covered first, and study the earliest material you studied right before the exam. Make sure you provide MORE TIME for the older material than you provided for the new material.

10. GET ENOUGH REST, AND LAY OFF THE RED BULLS AND FRAPPACHINOS! Eat a decent breakfast, dress in layers in case it is too cold or too hot in the testing room, and remember to BREATHE.

Make sure you sleep after each study session, because during sleep your brain will actually cement the knowledge you just added into place so that you can find it again—otherwise known as “memory.” If you don’t sleep, your brain will not create the directories and pathways to organize the information so that you can recall it.

The Map as History- Great review site!

Go here:

Notable Rebellions in US history


As you review, consider what patterns emerge among these various uprisings, riots, and rebellions.

“A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.”– Thomas Jefferson

Good golly, what if he had gotten his wish????

1663- Slave Uprising in Gloucester County, Virginia. in which both slaves and white indentured servants joined together to fight against their masters. Note that this occurred barely forty years after it was believed that the first Africans arrived on a Dutch ship in what would eventually be the United States.


1676- Bacon’s Rebellion breaks out when former indentured servants on the Virginia frontier. Economic pressures  had led former servants to only be able to procure land for themselves on the frontier, where they were subject to attack at any moment from Indians upon whose lands they were often squatting. When the colonial government refused to help them defend themselves, grievance spilled over. That summer and fall, a force under Nathaniel Bacon carried out indiscriminate attacks on Indians, whether friend or foe.  But the grievances of Bacon’s men included more than Indian attacks for they also bitterly resented the privileges the elite FFVs enjoyed and their access to power, and especially criticized the governor, William Berkeley. Therefore, when Bacon’s attempt to negotiate better treatment for those on the frontier failed, he and his men marched on Jamestown itself and burned it along with several plantations. Who knows what would have happened if the rebellion hadn’t disintegrated when Bacon suddenly died of dysentery? Twenty-three of the rebels were hanged by Governor William Berkeley.  See and, for a copy of Bacon’s “Declaration in the Name of the People,” see  ““.


1689- After the Glorious Revolution of 1688 led to the overthrow of King James II, an armed uprising stormed the fort of Boston seeking the overthrow of Sir Edmond Andros in the Dominion of New England.  Andros had angered colonists by attempting to limit self-government, encouraging the adoption of the Church of England in place of the Puritan faith, strict enforcement of the Navigation Acts, and by enforcing these decrees with British soldiers who were perceived as being unruly and needlessly violent and disrespectful. Andros was arrested by the mob, and the short-lived Dominion of New England collapsed after only three years. Cotton Mather and other leading citizens issued a “Declaration of Grievances”  outlining why the colonists were justified in resenting the imposition of the Dominion.


1689-91- Leisler’s Rebellion was led by militia captain Jacob Leisler in lower New York and was another outgrowth of the Glorious Revolution, much like the rebellion in Boston. New York was also made part of the Dominion of New England, and colonists there didn’t like it any better than those in Boston. Leisler overthrew the rule of the Lt. Governor, and created a new government based on direct representation. Leisler claimed to be maintaining power in the name of the new, Protestant rulers of England, William and Mary.  However, when William and Mary appointed a new overseer, Leisler refused to give up power, and British troops  captured him. He and his son-in law were convicted of treason, hanged, and then beheaded while still alive. Click HERE for a brief (1 minute!) video about Leisler’s Rebellion.


1677-79- The Culpeper or Albemarle Rebellion broke out in response to stricter enforcement of the Navigation Acts after the end of salutary neglect. A group of frontiersmen led by John Culpeper and George Durant in the Albemarle region of South Carolina imprisoned the deputy governor and other royal officials, including customs inspector (collector of taxes, never a popular person) Thomas Miller.  They then elected their own legislature, elected Culpeper governor, and ran things for two years. Miller eventually escaped from jail, made it back to England, where he informed the Lords Proprietors of the events. Culpeper was arrested and tried for rebellion, but was acquitted, in part because one of the Lords Proprietors defended him and justified the rebellion due to the harshness of the colonial officials. After this rebellion, one of the Lords Proprietors himself took over as governor.


1712- Slave Uprising in New York City in which about 25 armed slaves killed nine whites. Seven hundred were arrested. About twenty of the rebels were executed.


1739- The Stono Rebellion was another slave uprising led by a slave named Cato from Stono, South Carolina. On September 9, 20 slaves met and planned to escape to freedom. They broke into a store, killed the two shopkeepers, and stone guns and the ingredients for ammunition. Reportedly,  60 to 100 slaves eventually ran into a white militia called out to repel them as they marched toward Spanish Florida. At least forty blacks and twenty-one whites died during the battle. As a result, South Carolina enacted a much harsher slave code that no longer allowed slave to assemble in groups or learn to read, among other things. This was the largest uprising of slaves prior to the Revolution. See or


1741- The New York Conspiracy was another slave rebellion in New York City that was feared, although it is doubtful whether any actions took place. Thirty-one slaves and four white accomplices were executed for supposedly planning an uprising.


1763-66- Pontiac’s Rebellion broke out at the conclusion of the French and Indian War and raged throughout the Ohio Valley which had just been acquired from France for Britain. At the urging of an Indian religious leader who promised success if Indians would return to traditional ways, an Ottawa tribal chief named Pontiac soon gathered a confederation of Chippewa, Miami, Huron, Potawatomie, Delaware, and Seneca Indians to fight the establishment of British forts in the region. Ultimately, the Indians captured eight forts before the uprising lost force, and in 1766 a treaty was concluded. In response to this rebellion, however, the Proclamation of 1763 was issued by the British, enraging colonists, especially those who wished to settle in the rich Ohio River Valley. (Pontiac’s Rebellion also caused a violent uprising on the Pennsylvania frontier known as…


1763-64- The Paxton Boys Uprising was a series of attacks by frontiersmen who  were angered by Pontiac’s Rebellion. These predominantly Scots-Irish  groups attacked any Indian settlements, regardless of whether they had attacked whites or not. When the Pennsylvania governor issued arrest warrants for the Paxton boys after they attacked a peaceful settlement of Conestoga Indians, killing six outright and later taking 14 captive (who were also later killed), the Paxton Boys then attacked a village of Indians who had been converted to Christianity by Moravian missionaries. When the Indians fled to Philadelphia and were protected by the government, the Paxton Boys then marched on Philadelphia in 1764, causing a panic in the City of Brotherly Love. Only Benjamin Franklin’s negotiations with representatives from the Paxton Boys caused the march to break up. Nonetheless, tension between hardscrabble frontiersmen (westerners) and wealthier, more politically connected citizens  (easterners)was obviously not something that was solved after Bacon’s Rebellion, as this uprising demonstrated. (see p. 90 in your text)


1766-71- The Regulator Movement was an uprising in the Carolinas, once again between western frontier settlers and their wealthier, politically connected eastern counterparts, also known as the War of Regulation. It was felt that the laws and regulations that were enforced by the government were not fairly administered. This discontent was fed by the scarcity of money on the frontier. Eventually governor William Tyron called out the militia, and 2000 Regulators and 1,000 militia members fought at the Battle of Alamance on May 16, 1771. Although numerically superior, discipline and strategy was on the side of the better-trained militia, and after a two hour battle in which nine were killed on each side, the Regulators were defeated.  See or this previous post on the blog for more info. (see p. 90 in your text)


1764- Ethan Allen was the leader of the Green Mountain Boys, a military resistance unit that was formed  among settlers who did not want to see the takeover of what is now Vermont  and New Hampshire by New York. Using armed resistance, the Green Mountain Boys established a de facto government in lieu of the royally sanctioned authority of New York, which issued warrants for their arrest. When New York sent surveyors into the area they were forcibly detained and even beaten. When the Revolution broke out, however, the Green Mountain Boys and Ethan Allen  fought as a Vermont militia in the war, and when Vermont declared itself an independent nation in 1777, the Green Mountain Boys formed the basis for the Vermont Army.


1773- The Boston Tea Party. Tea Tax from Champagne Charley Townsend. Dudes in the Sons of Liberty dressed like Indians (not convincingly, but points for effort). Six thousand pounds of tea floating around in Boston Harbor in just under three hours. British East India Company enraged even without Captain Jack Sparrow involved. Port of Boston closed as part of the Intolerable Acts.


1786-87- Shays’ Rebellion broke out in western Massachusetts in the wake of a depressed national economy after the end of the Revolutionary War. Many of these farmers who had returned from the war practically penniless, and they greatly resisted the high property taxes that forced many of their number into foreclosure. Hardworking men saw their farms sold, and if that did not raise enough to pay off all their debts, they were subjected to the humiliation of court and possibly debtors’ prison. They feared that they would eventually become tenant farmers working for wealthy, well-connected landowners. Thus a strong populist flavor permeated the reasoning of the rebels.  Daniel Shays was a decorated Revolutionary War veteran who led the insurrection. He and his men marched on the debtors’ courts and forced them to close, which then alarmed creditors such as merchants and bankers, obviously. The problem was that the Confederation Congress could find no way to fund an army to restore order. The governor of Massachusetts, James Bowdoin, eventually had to use private funds to put down the insurrection. After a failed attempt to seize an arsenal, the rebellion collapsed, and many of its leaders fled to Vermont, which was not yet a state. Nonetheless, eventually 200 rebels were prosecuted for treason in 1787, and fiver were sentenced to hang. The governor lost re-election to John Hancock in the aftermath, and the five rebels sentenced to hang were paraded in front of the gallows before being given a last-minute pardon. Shays was pardoned as well, eventually, and died of old age. Shays’ Rebellion led many to conclude that the Confederation was too weak, and that radical measures would have to be taken to prevent similar uprisings in the future. The eventual consequence? The Constitutional Convention in 1787. But leftover anger from the rebellion caused Massachusetts to barely vote to ratify the new Constitution when it was put to a vote of the people in 1788. See


1794- the Whiskey Rebellion began in 1794 in Pennsylvania over a 1791 tax that was imposed upon whiskey distillers that was viewed as unjust, and especially unfair to small producers, who had to pay by the gallon, versus large distillers who paid a flat fee. Western farmers particularly resented this tax because it seemed to punish their habitual practice of turning their excess crops into whiskey to be sold. The tax was part of Hamilton’s financial plan to pay off the national debt (and promote the power of the federal government). After the protests turned into shooting and tarring and feathering of tax collectors, President Washington declared martial law and activated an army of militiamen from several states numbering almost 13,000. Washington and his former Revolutionary War aide Hamilton personally took control of the force and marched into western Pennsylvania. Once there, the main force of rebels melted away, but twenty alleged participants were arrested, and two were later sentenced to death for treason, although Washington commuted their sentences claiming one was an idiot and the other was crazy. The person who claimed leadership, a “Tom the Tinker,” was never found. This rebellion marked one of two times that a president has actually commanded troops in person, and showed that the federal government was strong enough to maintain itself, in contrast to that under the Articles of Confederation. Another consequence was that the common people came to feel that the Federalist party was out of touch with their concerns. The Whiskey Tax stayed on the book until 1803, although it was very difficult to collect, and many distillers then moved into the wilds of Kentucky and Tennessee, where they used corn instead to make bourbon.


1800- Gabriel Prosser’s rebellion was to be led by Gabriel and his brother Martin in Virginia. They gathered 1,000 slaves and armed them with the intention of attacking the capital of Richmond. Prosser’s plan was leaked to authorities after weather caused a delay in enacting the planned attack, and Prosser and several of his followers were executed.


1811- St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana was the location of a slave rebellion in January of this year in which 500 slaves rose up. One hundred slaves died in the ensuing mayhem.


1816- Fort Blount, Florida was the site of a battle between US Army forces and a combined force of 300 runaway slaves and Indians.


1822- Denmark Vesey’s Uprising was led by a free black man in Charleston, South Carolina, and was over before it began, as a slave informed his master of the plan before ti was actually enacted. The plan was believed to involve thousands of free and enslaved blacks, the mere possibility of which stunned local white officials. Vesey and thirty-six other conspirators were hanged after a very long series of trials.


1831- Nat Turner was convinced by a solar eclipse in February of 1831 that it was a sign from God that he should kill his master to free himself. By August, he completed his plans for a hoped-for uprising, and proceeded to kill his master and his family. Only 75 slaves joined his rebellion, however, and 3,000 whites turned out to put down the insurrection. After Turner and his small force was stopped, about 100 other slaves apparently unconnected with the resurrection were killed as well as tensions and emotions ran high. Turner was executed on November 31, after hiding for six weeks.


1859 –John Brown leads a raid with 21 other men on a federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry on October 16, Virginia, hoping to use the weapons to create a massive slave uprising. Although Brown captured the arsenal, the plot failed, and he was arrested by a force of Marines led by Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee, who had been on leave nearby. Brown was tried, for treason against the state of Virginia and executed, making him a “martyr for abolitionism.”


1861-1865- Civil War, or as many Southerners liked to call it, “the War of Northern Aggression” (shudder) or “the Late Unpleasantness.”  Do I really need to explain this one?


1863- The New York City Draft Riots erupted on July 11-13, 1863. The city was in the control of a powerful Democratic machine, and thus the Enrollment Act of Conscription which the Republican Lincoln passed was universally hated, including by the governor of New York. Unfortunately, the first draftees were being enlisted just as the news of the horrors of Gettysburg made the papers. Riots then broke out, predominantly among the Irish of the city , many of whom had no desire to fight to free blacks who would then compete with them for jobs at the bottom of the economic ladder. The damage from the riots was later estimated at more than one and a half million dollars, and no one knows exactly how many people died in the violence. In the end, Lincoln had to divert troops from fighting the Civil War to restore order in New York, and they had to remain in place to keep the peace. It is estimated that the hated conscription law only raised 150,00 men, most of them substitutes. See


1875-77- A General Labor Strike spread nationwide, centered primarily in the railroad industry. This strike had been building for several years, especially since the depression of 1873.  Workers forced to live in company towns suddenly saw their wages cut, often by at least 10%. In one instance, in 1875, the Reading Railroad cut wages to 54% of the 1869 levels, resulting in a strike that lasted 170 days. This was known as The Long Strike. The labor unrest  of the Long Strike of 1875 extended into the coal industry as well. A secret society known popularly as the Molly Maguires (its formal name was the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association) made up primarily of Irish who worked in the railroad industry, was blamed for  various actions of violence during the strike, and eventually nineteen were tried and executed for their activities. See for more info.


1892- Homestead Strike– Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead, Pennsylvania steel plant was the site of a violent confrontation between striking workers and Pinkerton detectives after the workers armed themselves and occupied the plant. When the Pinkertons tried to attack via the Monongahla River, they were fired upon and captured. The Pennsylvania State Militia then attacked and won the release of the Pinkerton detectives, and the union was ruthlessly crushed.


1909-12- The Black Patch War erupted over a specific rich tobacco grown in western Kentucky and Tennesse that the Duke  Tobacco tried to monopolize. Independent farmers responded to the monopolistic practices with an armed uprising that involved “Night Riders” attacking anyone or anything affiliated with the Duke Company. It took three years for the violence to end.


Race riots: Too many to describe but here are some of the more famous ones after the turn of the 20th century:

Atlanta, GA 1906

East St. Louis, IL 1917

Tulsa, OK, 1921

Harlem, NY 1935

Detroit, MI 1943

Beaumont, TX 1943

Los Angeles, CA (the Zoot Suit Riots) 1943

Harlem, NY 1963

Watts, CA 1965

Detroit, MI, 1967

Newark, NJ 1967

Baltimore, Chicago, Louisville and Washington DC in the wake of the assassination of MLK

Los Angeles, CA 1992 (after the Rodney King incident)