More freshmen take ASEs this fall

7884 infographic
Freshmen on pass/no record have nothing to lose by taking an ASE; 481 of 955 attempts were successful.
Infographic by Vivian Hu

More than 500 students, mostly incoming freshmen, spent time during orientation to undertake the Advanced Standing Exams. With an overall pass rate of 50.4 percent, the class of 2020 and assorted upperclassmen performed lower than last year’s overall pass rate of 59 percent.

The number of people taking exams has increased — 509, as compared to 443 and 398 for 2015 and 2014 respectively. Combined, those 509 sat for a total of 955 exams this fall, averaging about 1.88 exams each.

Pass rates across the board are slightly lower than last year’s, with the exception of the 18.03 Differential Equations exam’s 90 percent pass rate.

The 7.01x Introductory Biology exam’s pass rate in particular saw a drop, from 41 percent over the past five years to a 29.1 percent in 2016.

This difference may result from the large number of students who took the exam: 151 this year, compared to the 67 in 2014 who scored a pass rate of over 47 percent. In fact, the total number of passing students has actually increased from 32 in 2014 to 44 in 2016.

Meanwhile, 5.111 Principles of Chemical Science pass rates have remained high with 31.8 percent of students receiving a passing mark. 5.111 scores have soared for the past two years. In 2014, only 17.9 percent of students passed. In years before that, the average was closer to 14 percent.

For incoming freshmen, the ASEs are an opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in the GIRs and move on to classes of more appropriate difficulty. The Tech spoke with several freshmen who had taken the exams.

During freshman fall, ASE results are scored using pass/no record. Mariam Dogar ’20 said that older students encouraged her to take advantage of that fact.

“All the advice I got from upperclassmen was that… nothing bad is going to happen if you fail,” Dogar said.

Jacob Miske ’20 sat for both the Chemistry and Biology ASEs. Miske was not disappointed with his decision to take the exams.

“Both were very difficult; however, I felt like they were… a good way to keep my mind on school during the fun of orientation,” he said.

He nevertheless lamented that studying for the exams took away from the time he had to attend other orientation activities. About his result, Miske said he’s “better off taking [the classes] and being solid with the material.”

Other freshmen shared this perspective: “I’m making sure my foundation is concrete,” Jeba Sania ’20 said.