ASE pass rates improve for almost all subjects

240 more students took ASEs this year than last year

8668 ase infographic
Joanna Lin

769 students took Advanced Standing Exams this year, resulting in an overall pass rate of 64.1 percent.

ASE participation has steadily increased in recent years, from 443 students in 2015, to 509 and 529 students in 2016 and 2017, respectively. This year saw even more growth, with 240 more students than last year taking one or more ASE(s).

Pass rates also improved nearly across the board.

The 7.01x (Introductory Biology) ASE had one of the most significant increases: 65.6 percent of the 151 test takers passed this year, up from 38.8 percent in 2017.

There was also a considerable improvement for the physics exams. Forty-eight percent of students who took the 8.01 (Physics I) ASE and 61.8 percent who took the 8.02 (Physics II) ASE passed, compared to the corresponding 2017 pass rates of 28.1 and 58.4 percent.

The 18.03 (Differential Equations) and 18.06 (Linear Algebra) ASEs both had 100 percent pass rates, with all 33 and 14 of the students who took those exams succeeding, respectively. In 2017, by comparison, the pass rates were 83.8 percent for 18.03 and 56 percent for 18.06.

The 18.02 (Calculus II) ASE also experienced a generous increase, from 63 percent in 2017 to 71.6 percent this year.

The 18.01 (Calculus I) exam, on the other hand, had the lowest pass rate among the math exams at 39.4 percent, comparable to last year’s rate of 39.2 percent.

The only ASE that had a lower pass rate this year than last year was the 5.111 (Introductory Chemistry), which has historically been one of the most difficult ASEs. Only 37 of the 145 participants passed this year; this pass rate of 25.5 percent is down from 31 percent in 2017.

ASE data for this and past years was provided to The Tech by Elizabeth Young, associate dean of advising and new student programming.

“The new P/NR policy has not [had an] affect on the ASEs,” Young wrote in an email to The Tech. “[P]articipation is based on preparation of the student.”

In fact, the new P/NR policy has deterred some students from becoming heavily invested in the ASEs. Carine You ’22 said in an interview with The Tech, “I took fewer ASEs because I knew that I would be able to postpone some of my GIRs without losing the freedom of P/NR.” You ultimately decided to take only the 18.02 Multivariable Calculus exam.

The prospect of a more comprehensive education has also dissuaded some students from participation in the ASEs.

“I didn’t feel confident enough in my physics, chemistry, or biology background from high school and thought the MIT classes would give me a better or deeper understanding of these subjects.” Juliana Green ’22 said in an email to The Tech. “College is not a race, it’s about learning and I am excited to learn from the best in the world!”