Carl's Corner

Carl’s Corner: A Closer Look at UWorld

I’m always looking for educational technology tools that help us in a variety of ways. That said, one blind spot in my own research is the lack of tools to help and support Pre-AP and AP teachers. I review and train teachers are general tools that can help with student creation, but many are not helpful for teachers of these courses. Which is why I was excited when the organizers of the company UWorld College Readiness reached out to me to put their product under the microscope in Carl’s Corner. It gave me a chance to learn about a new product that can help teachers and students in an area that is often siloed from the reach of education. Here’s my review:

Origin Story:

UWorld was created by Dr. Chandra Pemmasani in 2003. Some companies get started trying to help those in the educational landscape, others are born out of necessity. While Dr. Pemmasani was studying for his Medical Licensing Exam in 2001, he discovered that most of the resources out there were clunky and/or too expensive for students to truly utilize. So, he decided to create his own repository of resources and UWorld was born.

Since that time UWorld has expanded to provide learning resources for Medical, Nursing, CPA, Law and CFA students and professionals. As the company grew they realized there was one major area where testing and exam preparation needed an overhaul….K-12 education. So, in 2019, they launched their College Prep division with the purpose of helping students prepare for the SAT and ACT exams. They have quickly grown and now help more than 2 million students, educators and professionals all over the world. 

A Problem Worth Solving

The designers at UWorld realized that their product could help both teachers and students in different ways. For teachers (specifically those that teach Advanced Placement – AP), it can take an obscene amount of time for them to pull together multiple resources. Many create these on their own or just go along with whatever the AP textbook publisher has provided. Add to that, the constant updating to AP content and the fact that much of this is still print-based, and you see why some AP teachers are pulling their hair out looking for supplements to their instruction.

Students also struggle with many of the traditional study materials out there in the marketplace as well as the rigor with AP courses. This can lead to a common problem where students drop their AP classes early in the school year and the educators might not know why as they lack the data to diagnose the issue. 

Taking these issues of resources and data for teachers and students, they designed a product that can be accessible from any device with an internet connection. With constantly updated resources and insight, teachers can identify struggling students and personalize some of their instructional supports accordingly.

Recent Updates:

With the success of their ACT and SAT products, UWorld recently added their “Learning Tools for AP Courses”. This content was in the beta phase in 2020 but has now launched mainstream as of January 2021. As part of their Learning Tools suite, they now offer support for AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature, AP US History, AP World History, AP Calculus AB and BC, AP statistics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Physics. 

Their content is updated on a weekly basis automatically within the platform and will be adding AP Human Geography and AP Psychology courses this fall. One of their newest features launched this month are “Unit Tests”. This feature allows district leaders to push out pre-built, common assessments for their AP courses across the district and/or school. This will help them understand which classes are on track and which need more support prior to AP exams in the spring. 

Stand out feature:

One thing that I’ve never really liked about AP curriculum is the rigidity in which teachers feel it should be delivered. When I work with AP teachers, they often will tell me that any new ideas and strategies can’t happen in their class because they have to follow a strict schedule to “cram in all that content”.  I really found that the platform UWorld offers gives much more flexibility to teaching AP courses. The content is dynamic so the only thing that limits it is how teachers choose to utilize it.

Ideas for Use:

AP teachers in Pasadena ISD found this flexibility and personalization of content extremely refreshing within the UWorld platform. Just a few examples of how they have used the content include:

  • Running breakout room sessions for students to work through various assignments together. This helps students understand and explain their thinking thus helping with retention.
  • Assigning specific sections of the Learning Tools as homework for students that are struggling. These don’t have to be assigned en masse and can be personalized based on the student needing support.
  • Allowing and encouraging students to track their own progress throughout the year. This allows them to self-identify areas of weakness and areas where they can improve.
  • Utilizing the built-in presentation feature to focus whole-class discussions.
  • Creating bell-ringers, exit tickets, quizzes and progress checks.
  • Creating timed practice tests that can be assigned to mimic what students would experience on the real AP Exam. 

Additional Resources:

UWorld has been featured in CollegeXpress, NextStepU, EdTech Digest, eSchool News and more. These posts below dive in a little deeper into how their product could help you AP teachers and departments. 

How UWorld’s Learning Tools for AP Courses Support Instruction (UWorld blog)

How to Help Students Prepare for AP Tests with UWorld (ClassTechTips)

We make Really Hard Things Easy to Understand (Southlake Style)

College Readiness Playlist (YouTube)

If you are interested in learning more about UWorld, check out their main resource page here. Also, check out some of the sample courses to see what the platform would look like from these options below:

AP Bio

AP Chemistry

AP Physics

AP Statistics

AP Calculus

AP Language

AP Literature

AP US History

AP World History

If you have found success using UWorld in your classroom, feel free to comment below with your ideas. Also, if you have a tool or app that you’d like me to look at and review, let me know! I’ll be sure to give you a shout out (if you like) as well! (Please note – if you are a vendor/company – fill out this link for a sponsored review)

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