Almost every AP student takes the AP tests at the end of the year seriously. After all, they can give you college credit and help you place out of college courses, and for many, hopes of doing well on the tests are the only reason students take AP courses.
But what if an AP student could have a little fun during the test as well? What if he or she could play a small prank on the AP graders, without negatively affecting his or her score?
That is what a Facebook group, created in 2008, wondered when the creators proposed the idea of writing the famous line, “This is Sparta!” in the middle of an essay during the test. The creators hoped that enough students would participate that the AP test graders would notice a trend, and not only be bewildered, but also get a laugh out of the tiny act of rebellion.
The most important part of the prank, warned the creators, is to draw a single slash-mark through the phrase. This way, the phrase cannot be included as part of the essay and therefore cannot affect the store. According to the Educational Testing Service, anything that is marked out is not part of the essay and cannot be graded.
Over 30,000 people joined the Facebook group before the AP tests, and the graders were bewildered as the phrase kept cropping up. Although “This is Sparta!” did not occur nearly as often as the participants may have hoped (the graders looked at a total of over one million essays), the phrase became something of an inside joke to the readers.
They began the last day of grading by shouting the phrase to pump themselves up, and most readers admitted that it gave them a good laugh.
This year, another Facebook group has cropped up encouraging AP test takers to include the phrase “I’mma let you finish but…” (made famous by Kanye West) in their essays.
Scott Levy, junior, said that he plans to participate in the prank this year. “Why not? It’s funny and you can’t get punished for it.” Levy is taking the AP US History exam and the AP English exam, and he wants to insert the phrase into both essays.
Some critics of the prank say that the tiny rebellion is hardly a rebellion at all, if the students were not willing to sacrifice their scores to pull it off. However, most think that these critics miss the point – to provide a tiny bit of fun to an otherwise boring and daunting task for students and graders alike.