ASE results fluctuate little

Freshmen better at chemistry, worse at physics

This year’s freshmen did remarkably well on the Chemistry (5.111) Advanced Standing Examination (ASE) — the pass rate for increased from around 14 percent in past years to 21 percent. In other subjects, though, the pass rates either remained the same or decreased.

The ASEs were originally implemented because the material in AP classes was not equivalent to MIT courses, putting students who received AP credit “at a disadvantage moving forward,” said Julie B. Norman, director of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming. The faculty develops the exams, and each ASE is similar to or harder than the course final, ensuring that freshmen who pass are thoroughly prepared to advance to the next level.

For some of the most common ASEs — 7.012 (Introductory Biology), 5.111, 18.01 (Single Variable Calculus), 18.02 (Multi Variable Calculus) and 8.02 (Electricity and Magnetism) — the percentage of students passing remained fairly similar to past years.

The calculus ASEs had the typical high pass rates: 65.6 percent for 18.01 and 75.8 percent for 18.02. The large percentage of students passing is due to the fact that content is “pretty standard” for these classes, according to Mathematics academic administrator Barbara Peskin.

46.8 percent of students passed the 8.02 exam, a slight drop from the 56.1 percent who passed last year, but consistent with the scores from the past couple of years. This year’s 26.8 percent pass rate for Biology was nearly identical to last year’s 27 percent. However, the Class of 2015 had a 51 percent pass rate in the Biology ASE. On the other hand, 8.01 exam results were unusually low: past years have seen 40–50 percent of freshmen passing, but this year only 29.3 percent passed.

The less popular ASEs, including 18.03 and 18.06, had pass rates of 97.1 and 78.6 percent respectively. This year, as in most years, only a couple of students did not pass each test. Yuanqing “Kai” Xiao ’17, who is considering a major in Course 18, studied for 18.02 and 18.03 on OCW. After deciding to self-study for the 18.03 test over the summer, Xiao began working on the 35-section packet that must be turned in before a student attempts the 18.03 exam. “Working through the packet actually helped me learn 18.03, and as a result, I found the test not too hard,” he said. Xiao took the ASEs because he wanted to advance right away to “more interesting math courses.”

The overall pass rate on the ASEs was 54.2 percent. The ASEs are offered during orientation, at the end of IAP, and part of the course finals schedule. However, as Peskin warns, it is recommended to attempt them as freshmen or sophomores, lest one ends up the sole senior in 18.02.