If ChatGPT were a high school student, how would it perform? Let’s find out

We asked the chatbot to perform several tasks that your average high school student might be given in the subjects of history, writing and math. Needless to say, it outdid itself.

ChatGPT or CheatGPT? These opposing perspectives reflect the attitudes of educators and students alike regarding ChatGPT, the artificially intelligent chatbot that’s taking the K12 world by storm.

Some fear that it promotes cheating, allowing students to breeze through their assignments. For example, one individual challenged ChatGPT with completing a full SAT test. Astonishingly, it performed in the 52nd percentile, according to College Board.

Others are rather optimistic, arguing that it has the immense power to make learning, well, fun.

“In the future, we need to lean in as educators,” said Dr. Don Killingbeck, the superintendent of Hemlock Public Schools in Michigan in a previous interview with District Administration. “Because let’s face it. There are people out there thinking, ‘This is bad. It’s everything we told kids not to do.’ People are going to say we shouldn’t be using this and that kids shouldn’t be touching it. The bottom line is in the real world we’ve got to be more productive. You only get 24 hours in a day, so how are you going to make the most out of it? And I think a tool like ChatGPT maximizes that opportunity.”

But just how powerful is the tool? Out of curiosity, we asked ChatGPT to perform several tasks that your average high school student might be given. For simplicity, we asked it questions about the following three subject areas: history, writing and math. And sure enough, it performed.


Using recommendations from Time4Learning, a homeschool curriculum provider, we assigned ChatGPT the following task: “In 200 words or less, describe the challenges faced during the construction of the transcontinental railroad.”

Here was its response:

The construction of the transcontinental railroad faced numerous challenges, including securing funding and acquiring land rights,” it wrote. “The harsh weather conditions, difficult terrain, and remote locations made it a logistical nightmare. The labor force consisted of immigrants and former slaves, who faced dangerous working conditions, low wages, and cultural conflicts. The supply chain for materials and equipment was disrupted by the Civil War, making it difficult to secure the resources needed for construction. Tensions with Native American communities also posed a challenge, as the railroad threatened their way of life and sacred lands. Additionally, corruption and mismanagement were rampant, as railroad executives and politicians sought to profit from the massive project. Finally, competition between rival railroad companies led to tension and conflict, hindering progress and driving up costs. Despite these challenges, the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, revolutionizing transportation and commerce in the United States.


“Prepare an outline for an essay about the characters and conflict that are present throughout Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

ChatGPT’s response:

I. Introduction
A. Background on Shakespeare and the play
B. Brief overview of Romeo and Juliet
C. Thesis statement: The characters and conflict in Romeo and Juliet are integral to the play’s themes of love, hate, and fate.

II. The Characters
A. Romeo
1. Description of his personality and motivations
2. Relationships with other characters
B. Juliet
1. Description of her personality and motivations
2. Relationships with other characters
C. Other characters
1. The Montagues and Capulets
2. Mercutio and Tybalt
3. The Nurse and Friar Lawrence

III. The Conflict
A. Family feud
1. Origin and escalation of the conflict between the Montagues and Capulets
2. The impact of the feud on the play’s characters
B. Individual conflicts
1. Romeo’s internal conflict over love and hate
2. Juliet’s struggle with her duty to family and love for Romeo
C. Fate
1. The role of fate in the play’s conflict and resolution
2. The concept of free will vs. predetermined destiny

IV. Conclusion
A. Restate thesis statement
B. Summary of key points
C. Reflection on the themes of love, hate, and fate in Romeo and Juliet
D. Final thoughts on the play’s impact and relevance.


Using problems provided on Varsity Tutors, an online tutoring and test prep site, we asked ChatGPT to answer several questions your average high schooler taking precalculus would solve:

“What is the center and radius of the circle indicated by the equation? (– 2)² + = 36″

ChatGPT’s answer: “The center of the circle is (2, 0) and the radius is 6.”

But it didn’t stop there. It even showed its work:

“To find the center of the circle, we need to isolate the x and y terms on one side of the equation,” it wrote. “The standard form of a circle’s equation is (x – h)² + (y – k)² = r², where (h, k) is the center and r is the radius.”

“Starting with (x – 2)² + y² = 36, we can simplify the equation to: x² – 4x + y² = 36 x² – 4x + 4 + y² = 40 (x – 2)² + y² = 40”

“So, the center of the circle is (2, 0) and the radius is the square root of 40, which is 6.”

Now let’s try something a little more tricky.

Using another example question found on Varsity Tutors, we asked ChatGPT, “What is the shape of the graph indicated by the equation x²/16 + y²/4 = 1?”

And its answer was correct, an ellipse. Unsurprisingly, it told us exactly how it came to that conclusion.

“The graph indicated by the equation x²/16 + y²/4 = 1 is an ellipse,” it wrote.

“An ellipse is defined as the set of all points such that the sum of the distances from two fixed points, called foci, is constant. In standard form, the equation for an ellipse is (x²/a²) + (y²/b²) = 1, where a and b are the semi-major and semi-minor axes of the ellipse, respectively.”

“The equation x²/16 + y²/4 = 1 is in the standard form of an ellipse, with the semi-major axis equal to 4 and the semi-minor axis equal to 2. This means that the shape of the graph is an ellipse, where the x-axis and y-axis are the semi-major and semi-minor axes, respectively.”

So what’s your opinion? As an educator or administrator, does this frighten you? Or does it open up a world of possibilities for enhancing the student’s learning and getting kids engaged again?

More from DA: ChatGPT or CheatGPT? Students love it, educators not so much

Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttps://districtadministration.com
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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