Regents: Reviewed

June 11, 2019

SHS 10th grade World History students, along with students all over New York State, took the June 3rd World History Regents Exam. This exam has a new format, compared to the examinations from prior years which consisted of an extra two multiple choice questions (not document-based), and a different essay format altogether.

The makeup of this year’s three-hour examination includes 28 “document-based” multiple choice questions on topics ranging from Versailles, France and its relationship to the Edo palace in Japan, to Iran and its revolutions to install a religious theocracy. The multiple choice section even included an excerpt from part-time Daily Show host-part time historian, Trevor Noah, on the Apartheid. Coincidentally, I happened to have studied for the South Africa section of the Regents by watching reruns of the Daily Show. I was so glad to see my studying methods paying off so directly.  

While there were documents provided on the multiple choice section, the majority of the questions themselves weren’t actually document-based. The only relation to the documents and some of the questions were the page of the test that they were located on, and most of the time the country that they were referring to. Other than that, to me, their relationships to one another seemed strained. Yes, the information was a lot to memorize. And no, we did not learn all of it in class. In fact, it seemed that what we spent most of our time on throughout the year had little presence on the test at all.

Following the multiple choice section of the exam came document based response questions. These questions asked us to analyze four documents, broken up into sets of two, and compare and contrast the individual sets of them. When I say analyze, I mean it loosely. They mostly meant for us to “identify” similarities and differences between the documents. This was the point of the test where my pen began to run out of ink and my hand started to hurt. Don’t worry, I persevered because if there’s one thing I learned in history this year, it’s that you shouldn’t give up until you get that bread (see: bread riots of the French Revolution).

The next part of the exam consisted of an enduring issues essay. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this type of essay, they are the type that you have never written before in history class, or in any other class, ever in your life, for that matter. The good news about this essay is that after the Regents,, you will never need to write one again. As a part of this essay, students were to read and analyze five documents and use three of them to demonstrate the ways in which one specific issue affected people in the past, and continues to affect people in the present in similar ways. Basically, we had to decode a photo of Lipton tea (see: Twitter memes on Regents). The overall theme of the set of documents we received was industrialization, its effects on the environment, and its effects on economies and on government policies. At least, that’s what I wrote about. If that’s not what the theme of the documents was, then I might be the wrong person to be writing a review of this Regents exam.  

Besides the fact that this was a test, and I can’t say that I am personally a fan of being tested quantitatively over the course of three hours on information that I have been taught through a span of ten months, this test was not as bad as anticipated. I actually appreciated the fact that multiple choice section was document based, as it placed me in the right context, historically, to answer the questions that I was tasked with. I liked the fact that the material tested on this new Regents exam was only on the tenth-grade curriculum, compared to past tests when it had been a combination of 9th and 10th-grade history studies. The only thing that I can think of that would be worse than a test on one whole years worth of knowledge is a test on two entire years worth of knowledge. All in all, I say this new Regents exam was an improvement from those of previous years, but let’s wait to get the scores back to decide for sure.  

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