Freshmen fare well on ASEs
18.03, 18.02 stand out with especially high pass rates
The Class of 2016 showed typical or better than average overall performance on the Fall semester Advanced Standing Exams (ASEs).
The most common ASEs that freshmen took were: 7.012/7.013 (Introductory Biology), 5.112/5.111 or 3.091 (Chemistry), 18.01 (Single-variable Calculus), 18.02 (Multivariable Calculus), 18.03 (Differential Equations), 18.06 (Linear Algebra), 8.01 (Classical Mechanics), and 8.02 (Electricity and Magnetism).
“The Chemistry ASE is our best attempt to summarize what every student should know coming out of the general chemistry,” said chemistry professor Keith A. Nelson, the instructor for 5.112. As in previous years, the Chemistry ASE pass rate of 13.8 percent (13 out of 94 passed) was the lowest among all the GIR ASEs. Previous pass rates for Chemistry ranged from 7 percent to 15 percent. This year marks a general trend upwards over the past six years, but nothing drastically different from the past two to three years.
The Biology ASE, with the second lowest pass rate of about 27.6 percent (21 out of 76 passed), showed a marked decline in the number of students passing out of 7.012. Yuqing Zhang ’16 — a freshman who passed the Biology ASE and was a silver medalist in the 2012 USA Biology Olympiad National Finals — said, “It was very different from my high school biology experiences in terms of rigor and problem-solving, and I definitely needed my experiences with biology outside of the classroom to pass.”
This year’s highest pass rates came out of the mathematics ASEs, particularly 18.03 — 96 percent passed. “If any student deserves to pass the exam, I am all for it,” said mathematics associate professor Katrin Wehrheim, this year’s 18.03 course instructor.
“I was very pleased to pass the [18.02] exam,” said James J. Thomas ’16. “I think it wasn’t as difficult as the MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) final exams.” The 18.02 exam pass rate has stayed relatively consistent for the past three years, hovering around 80 percent.
But only 30 percent passed out of 18.01, less than half of last year’s 62 percent.