‘A big success:’ Chelsea students earn 100-percent pass rate on AP chemistry exam

Published 1:49 pm Thursday, July 27, 2023

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By EMILY SPARACINO | Special to the Reporter

CHELSEA – Chelsea High School teacher Shannon Acton’s AP chemistry students set a new standard of excellence this year.

For the first time in her six years of teaching honors and AP chemistry at CHHS, Acton’s AP Chemistry students achieved a 100-percent pass rate on their exam.

“My pass rates have steadily increased year to year, ranging in the 65-80 percent passing, which has always been a big success in my eyes as I try to make improvements to my classroom year to year,” Acton said. “This is such a significant achievement because passing this exam is not an easy task.”

The test consists of two separate parts—60 multiple-choice questions in one hour and 30 minutes, and seven free-response questions in one hour and 45 minutes—and requires knowledge from all nine units of college-level material learned throughout the school year, Acton said.

“Additionally, passing the AP exam can sometimes lead to college credit, as well as be an indicator for future success in college courses,” she said. “Passing the exam is important and very much encouraged, but I want to make sure my students have learned how to study, take solid notes and effectively communicate information. I want them to not only succeed in AP chemistry, but also in their future plans.”

Along with the chance to earn college credit and gain experience with college-level material and workload, Acton said taking AP courses in high school allows students to get a better understanding of a subject they are passionate about, adding, “I have many students that desire to be chemistry majors and they enjoy learning the more in-depth material.”

Honors chemistry includes grade levels 10th-12th, while AP chemistry includes grade levels 11th and 12th.

“At Chelsea, students are required to take either general or honors chemistry before they can sign up for AP chemistry; therefore, many of my AP chemistry students have me as a teacher for two years,” Acton said. “I really like this layout for AP chemistry in that it usually means my classroom already has great rapport and knows what to expect from my class in terms of workload and rigor.”

Acton is sure her AP chemistry students’ recent 100-percent exam pass rate will serve as inspiration to other students in the future.

“Students are already naturally competitive in terms of grades, so they always try to one-up the previous year,” she said. “Also, I start every year with telling my students the previous year’s pass rates and encouraging them to do even better. Of course, it will be hard to top 100 percent, but now the goal can be to maintain 100 percent and raise the overall score average.”

Above all, Acton said she is incredibly proud of her students and what they have achieved.

“This would not have been possible without the work ethic put forth by these students, and I am truly so impressed by them,” Acton said. “I was lucky to be their teacher.”