Home COVID-19 CollegeBoard works to keep AP exams despite COVID-19

CollegeBoard works to keep AP exams despite COVID-19

Students studying for the AP exam.
Credit: Evan Keck, 42Fifty

Due to the recent changes to the school year, AP exams have been modified and will now be administered at home in an online format as well as shortened in length. Each exam will now only last 45 minutes and cover a limited amount of material. The new tests will no longer contain any multiple choice questions. Many students see the multiple choice section as the easier and less stressful section; however now students will only be answering a variety of free response questions based on material learned prior to March. 

Students that do not have access to an electronic device still have an opportunity to take the test. CollegeBoard is working with students to apply for a device at their online site. CollegeBoard is working with students in this situation to provide testing opportunities and keep everyone safe.

These changes could cause students to change their decision on whether or not they take the test. Before this year, exams were three hours long and covered the entirety of the class’ material. For this reason, some students may think that these new and shorter tests could be easier due to the ability to use personal notes. The exams have been ruled as open note and open resource exams to ensure that CollegeBoard doesn’t have to worry about cheating.

As a result of these changes, the student experience is going to drastically change. Some students may like the changes and others may be disappointed about them. Many students really enjoyed the nervous moments before the test, they used one another for comfort.

“It’s super fun, I love seeing all of my friends there getting either super excited or nervous,” senior Emily Frost said.

This year, students are no longer able to directly share their experiences with their friends and classmates. Some students may find this to be a large downside as they see their friends and classmates as a comforting group that they can always relate with.

In order to support the students and give them what they want, CollegeBoard surveyed many of them to see what they want most. They wanted to well represent the students’ needs during this time.

“We were stunned by the overwhelming desire, in some cases demand, expressed by students that we please not cancel AP testing this year,” stated Trevor Packer, head of the AP program at CollegeBoard.

Many AP teachers have also needed to alter the material they hand out due to these changes. Some teachers may be suspicious about how the test changes may affect the students’ results. Although the teachers can still upload review material and talk to students via Zoom or Google Hangouts, the learning environment is very different from a traditional classroom. Students and teachers are concerned that these shorter tests will not reflect the students’ true knowledge on the subject as a result of the shorter exam.

The length of the exams can affect the students in a variety of ways. For some students the length will be less stressful and vice versa for others, some may think it will be an easier test as it includes less material and some may believe the opposite.

“It’s hard to think it won’t … it’s hard to take a 3 hour exam and it to 45 minutes and call it the same,” AP Physics 1 teacher Jamie Piper said. 

However, CollegeBoard has been working to reassure students and teachers that the new AP tests will still reflect the knowledge and learning capacity of students for colleges and universities to still get a look at what they want for incoming graduates.

‘There will not be differences in earning a 3, 4, or 5 this year versus other years, even though there aren’t multiple choice questions,” Packer said. “Statisticians and psychometricians analyzed this year’s questions, and adjusted this year’s standard for success based on the difficulty of this year’s questions versus last year’s questions.”

CollegeBoard has been recommending AP Live and online review videos for students to prepare. The best way to make sure students still achieve their 4’s and 5’s, CollegeBoard recommends still studying as one would a normal test. Using notes will slow a student down and may result in an incomplete exam. Click here for the updated exam schedule.

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