Month: July 2015

On my 2015 AP exam scores

School

The school year of 2014-2015 was my first year of high school and of course my freshman year. Being new to high school, programs like Advanced Placement (AP) are usually out of reach for a first-year high school student, not to mention the increased rigor brought to once mundane courses like English and History. As a GT student in my school, I take Humanities 1, or basically the hardest English and World Geography classes for 9th graders. They were quite grueling, and piled on with my other AP classes, I felt it would be a recipe for disaster.

Taking AP Biology and AP Computer Science A … as a freshman?!

Initially, I chose to take two AP courses at my school, AP Biology and AP Computer Science A. In May 2014, when I was only an eighth grader, my soon-to-be AP Biology teacher introduced us to the curriculum at my school and explained what was needed to prepare for the upcoming semesters. In addition, there would be a comprehensive summer assignment we had to complete. The same month, I emailed my soon-to-be AP Computer Science teacher if I could skip Pre-AP Computer Science and take AP Computer Science, a class which usually serves as a second-year computer science course. However, I had already known a few programming languages and I felt going through Pre-AP would be a waste of my time. Along with my closest friends, who happened to be passionate in computer science and programming as well, we emailed the teacher and she responded with a “yes!” We were excited, but it was time to prepare.

After a two-month vacation, I arrived back home in August to find that I was severely behind on my AP Biology summer work. I spent every waking day completing every single summer assignment, and by the time I had tested the first unit, I obtained an extremely high test score, due to my studying, the teacher’s generous grading curves, and a friend of mine who provided necessary data for the summer assignment. In addition, I read some of the AP Computer Science summer assignment, which was actually never enforced and basically useless, and practiced object-oriented programming principles using the programming language which I was already familiar with, PHP. By the time I got to class, with the help of my friends, I was able to quickly catch up on the principles of Java necessary for mastery of AP Computer Science.

Signing up for the AP Chinese Language and Culture exam … without taking the class

This year also happened to be the year the Chinese foreign language program was rebooted, and as such, a Chinese teacher arrived at Boyd. I have been able to fluently speak Mandarin Chinese since I was a child, and although my English skills have greatly surpassed those of my Chinese skills, my Chinese is definitely good enough to have a comfortable conversation with native Mandarin speakers. Nonetheless, I chose to take French, because as my French teacher says, “taking Chinese would be like taking ESL as my second language.” Consequently, I didn’t meet the Chinese teacher in my normal daily schedule. When my classmates who took Chinese said “we’re starting a Chinese Club, you should come join!,” I met the teacher and spoke my fluent Mandarin. She recommended me to take the AP Chinese exam that year. Although I was not in any Chinese class, I decided to keep the recommendation in the back of my mind.

In McKinney, not many Chinese people who actually speak Mandarin are around. Nonetheless, I happened to meet a Mandarin speaking native of Tianjin, China in my AP Computer Science class. He told me to take the AP Chinese exam as well, saying “it’s really easy, with your level of Chinese comprehension, you’ll get a 5.” He then cited the fact that he had also taken the exam the previous year and felt it was easy.

The combination of the Chinese teacher and a taker of the AP Chinese exam led me to sign up for the AP Chinese exam along with the expected registration of my two other exams that were associated with the classes I took,

How did I survive my AP courses?

Although I had not taken any computer science class before, AP Computer Science was relatively easy. Coupled with the fact that my friends took the class with me, help was always at my disposal, and my help was always at their disposal as well. There was no homework in the class, and when it came time to learn concepts, I just learned them easily. The labs that we completed in the class helped us unite elements of Java and establish their practical uses.

AP Biology was, however, a completely different beast, but one that was still manageable. Along with homework that made life quite saturnine, the tests given in class were filled with concepts that were not properly linked together in preparation for the AP Biology exam, not to mention the class test questions were hard. The good news is that curves ranging from 15 to 25 points were applied on every test, and my test score was always above a 90 after the curve. It wasn’t ideal, but I worked with what I had.

Which course was most useful?

I am deeply passionate about the practical applications and possible things that one could make from computer science. However, when it comes to learning something, I am a jack of all trades, and the concepts taught in AP Biology allowed me to understand all the concepts of life. Everywhere I went, I applied my knowledge learned in AP Biology and I understood how something worked. It might have been a result of intense homework assignments, but it gave me new knowledge and understanding of life as we knew it. I think AP Biology was the most useful course I took in my freshman year. That might be because AP Computer Science was pretty simple and added to my already vast knowledge of programming, but I think learning something new makes something interesting.

Reflecting on my AP scores

Although the AP Biology exam was tough, I was not pleased to receive only a 4, but I’ll accept that over a worse score. (Yes, I am a stereotypical Asian who feels the highest score is always the goal, and anything less is a disappointment and a failure.) Only 6% of students obtained a 5 on the exam. I bet I was in the 7% who was stuck in the upper 4 range. To be fair, I studied intensely the weekend before the exam (also known as cramming), which made me more confident I would receive a 5. Unfortunately, although I did not receive a 5, I was still good enough to be well qualified for the course. This would be the worst AP score I received out of my three AP exam scores.

Interestingly enough, my time management for the multiple choice section of the AP Computer Science A exam was terrible, and coupled with difficult multiple-choice questions, I felt I did not do so well on that section. However, I had much better time management on the free-response section, and it was pretty easy. I am almost certain the free-response section allowed me to achieve the 5 score for which I was hoping.

Finally, but definitely not least, is my AP Chinese Language and Culture exam. Ok, it might have required the least preparation, considering I natively speak Mandarin Chinese, but I nonetheless picked up a book and reviewed the type of questions it asked. This is definitely the most unique test I have ever taken. First, nobody else took it with me. Only my history teacher accompanied me as a proctor. The exam is actually administered on a computer, and because my Pinyin input skills are great, that was not an issue in the exam. In fact, the multiple choice and writing sections were quite easy. However, the AP Chinese exam also expects you to listen to a question and then immediately begin responding with a relevant response for 20 seconds. Not only is this harder than real-life conversations, this was by far the hardest part of the exam. I think 5 seconds should be given in between the question recording being played and the recording of the response. But I digress. Even the “cultural question” to me was hard. I had to explain the interesting characteristics of the Chinese character system, or something similar. Thank goodness for Chinese school, which taught me all I needed to know. Nonetheless, I obtained a 5 score, just like the 65% of students who took the exam this year with me. The hardest part of the exam was the ability to answer the questions as they asked, and this was something for which I did adequately prepare, making me very happy.

 

In conclusion, this was an exciting year for my AP classes. I even did something unique that nobody else in my school did this year. Although next year is harder, I’m looking forward to my unique experiences.

My opinion on same-sex marriage and LGBT activities

Society

Same-sex marriage is a relatively new phenomenon that has bloomed only in the past decade. Taking that into account, the main issue with the acceptance of same-sex marriage is its place in the lives of people who believe that same-sex marriage is sinful or wrong, like Christians. So, with that also in mind, I will attempt to decipher why we do not accept same-sex marriage. I will also explain why I think same-sex marriage should be accepted.

I live in Texas, a conservative state where if you aren’t Christian, you aren’t part of the majority. Yes, it is a very nice state to live in, with nice folks holding the door to the entrance of a store, and thank yous abundant everywhere. That is because of the Christian upbringing of many adults in Texas. But as a result of this deep Christian soaking, there are many principles that are left over from several millenia ago.

Why same-sex marriage isn’t normal

Same-sex marriage, in my mind, will never be the same as different-sex marriage, or “normal” marriage.

Yes, I support same-sex marriage. But do you expect somebody brought up all his life in Christervative Texas to seriously change their complete mindset about marriage? One of the first things we learn in life is that (for children who grew up in a traditional family) our biological parents are married, and our dad is a male, and our mom is a female. So when they learn two males or two females can all of a sudden marry, a fact of life that is very deep and simple is suddenly altered. The only ways to change this is either through painful brainwashing of every single citizen – illegal, or raise the next generation with a recognition that same-sex marriage is okay. Look at the racist southerners in the 1960’s Bible Belt. Birmingham, Alabama. Selma. The racist southerners (I would assume they are white and Christian too) were so racist that I do think they were imprinted with that subconscious hate forever. But their children might not have as much hate because schools teach them about racial equality and how bad slavery was. Sure, the children might be slightly racist still because of what their parents said, but just like the transfer of energy always releases heat, the same “heat” is not transferred and only part of the energy (hate) is transferred, probably even diluted with a Solution of Tolerance.

Why Christian principles could be dated

Before you get riled up at me, let me say that most Christian principles still apply. This includes a general sense of peace and loving each other, and I continue to feel that these principles will only enhance one’s life. If anything, the verses of the Bible are intended to keep us in check, to make sure we don’t go crazy and start killing people. The verses of the Bible are what allow our posterity to hold the store entrance door and be thanked.

However, the Bible was written millenia ago, and some principles do not apply anymore, like same-sex marriage. These dated principles were certainly applicable for the Hebrews, which did not have even a fraction of the population of the United States today. That meant in order to grow, the Bible and the Abrahamic God had to command men to reproduce with women, so that there was indeed a posterity. This was the only way to maintain the civilization.

(I am not Christian, and I am sorry if I offended you in any way. I am simply stating what I currently think. If the Abrahamic God knows there is more to same-sex marriage, then hopefully he discloses this to me.)

Why same-sex marriage isn’t wrong

Today, this isn’t an issue. With our world population exceeding seven billion people, we really don’t need growth of population. If anything, some children who become orphaned need parents, and since same-sex parents, especially those who are male, cannot create a child with 100% of their own DNA, they would adopt a child instead and love that child deeply.

What really hurts me is that some people or organizations, who are mainly religious, continue to stand opposed to same-sex marriage, and cannot accept that it is allowed. Some organizations that fit into this category include Chick-fil-A and the Westboro Baptist Church. And hating is a sin, according to Christianity.

Other than same-sex marriage being wrong per the Bible, there isn’t much of a reason to hate same-sex marriage. If somebody thinks “eww, that’s disgusting,” that is a personal preference and opinion and isn’t substantiated by fact. My previous points have already been bursts of facts, and I will make another fact apparent.

  • If you are heterosexual and you just happen to dislike the concept of homosexuality, does it directly affect you?
    • No, you didn’t become homosexual. In addition, if you don’t want to be with homosexuals, that is fine.
  • If you are murdered purposefully, does that directly affect you?
    • Yes, you are dead! It goes without saying that death changes everything about you. Somebody wanted and knowingly wanted to inflict harm onto yourself.
  • If you are verbally harassed, does that directly affect you?
    • Yes, somebody has directly attacked you, and you probably have miserable feelings after. Once again, somebody wanted and knowingly wanted to inflict harm.
  • If a homosexual is attracted to you and mentions this to you, only to be rejected by you, does that directly affect you?
    • Yes, but not in a purposefully harmful way. They were only asking, and only if they continued to press on would they be wrong.

Same-sex marriage doesn’t really directly affect parties who do not want to be involved, while murder and harassment do indeed directly affect parties who do not want to be involved.

How to make same-sex marriage normal

For starters, put gay marriage in children’s books. This will tell the child at an early stage that marriage is between two people who love each other. And that is my final point; why stop two people who love each other from marrying? They want to live together, to support each other. And if you don’t want to do that with someone of the same sex, same-sex marriage isn’t really affecting you and you shouldn’t control others.

Why did I write this?!

I am not trying to throw kerosene on the fire, but just my justification on stop hating people who aren’t causing you any harm directly. Just like the principles of the Bible, all I want is love and acceptance. I will finish off with a quote from a friend of mine, who is Christian. Although I do not agree with all of its content, it shows most of my opinions are shared by even some Christians.

Love the sinner, hate the sin. There is no malice in my heart towards people who recognize as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transexual. I do believe it’s a sin, but so is discriminating, judging, and excluding these people because of their lifestyle. We all sin. The punishment is the same. Our God is a loving, merciful, and forgiving God. Love will always win, but it’s God’s love that wins in the end. His love that caused him to send his son to live a perfect life, and then die so that death may be eternally defeated, and we may be continually forgiven for sins such as these. We should harbor nothing but love in our hearts for our neighbors, our brothers and sisters in Christ. In the end love really does win. God’s love. #Hebrews13:1 #John3:16