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Passing Rate for FEE Levels Off

By Issel Lim

Three out of four freshmen passed the Freshman Essay Evaluation this year, consistent with last year, but a large increase from one-fifth who passed in 2000.

The percentage who passed the Physics I (8.01) Advanced Standing exam doubled. Results for the other departments such as math, chemistry and biology were not available.

The placement exams are used to place students at an appropriate level within each department, allowing them to skip the corresponding introductory course. Students who do not pass the FEE or do not receive a 5 on the Advanced Placement English Literature or Language exam must take a Communication Intensive humanities, arts and social sciences writing subject in their freshman year.

Associate Dean for Academic Resources Julie B. Norman said that data for freshmen AP, International Baccalaureate, and transfer credit granted are not available since the numbers change throughout the year.

FEE pass rate stays constant

This year, 615 students or 74 percent received a score of “Pass” on the FEE, similar to the 73 percent who did last year. They may now take any Communication Intensive HASS or CI-HW subject to fulfill their communication requirement.

A total of 730 students took the exam online in the summer, and 166 students took the handwritten exam in August at MIT.

The pass rate has increased sharply in the past three years, from only 19 percent in 2000 to 59 percent in 2001 to 74 percent now.

Of those who did not pass, 186 students (22 percent) received a score of “Writing Subject Required” and must complete a CI-HW their freshman year. Three percent received a score of “English as a Second Language Subject Required” and must take Expository Writing for Bilingual Students (21F.222).

Leslie C. Perelman, director of writing across the curriculum, whose office administers the test, said that when the faculty decide a FEE score, they ask themselves the question “Will this person do okay in a CI-H subject, or does this person need some work on their writing?”

Ben M. Baumgold ’07 said that he wrote about early decision versus early action, and his essay about “a new experience” included Campus Preview Weekend on Fifth East at Next House.

Over half pass physics exams

Of the 80 freshmen taking the 8.01 placement exam, 59 percent passed compared with 24 percent in 2002. Seventy percent of the 44 who took the Physics II (8.02) exam passed, compared with only 39 percent in 2002.

Physics Academic Administrator Brian E. Canavan said since a different group of faculty writes each exam, the exact passing score changes with each exam.

Zachary D. Wissner-Gross ’07, who passed the 8.02 exam, said that “It wasn’t too bad, but they had a couple of topics that aren’t covered in AP Physics C.” To prepare for the exam, students can study the TEAL web site, read lectures, or do workshops from 8.02T.