Advanced Placement: A New Way to Test

On March 20th, 2020, the College Board, a nonprofit organization that designs and distributes standardized tests, announced changes that would come to the AP exams due to the stay-at-home order forcing school shutdowns for the rest of the academic year. 

According to the College Board’s website, the exams will be online using “plagiarism detection software and post-administration analytics” in addition to verifying the work by sending a copy of the student’s response to his or her AP teacher. The tests will be open book/open note, limited only to paper notes and past assignments while online resources and communications with another student are prohibited.

To accommodate for the time change from roughly 3 hours to 45 minutes, the organization has announced that it will only test the “first 75% of the course” for each subject and the test will either be one long essay question or two short answer questions. 

In a webinar conducted on April 16, 2020, Trevor Packer,  Senior Vice President for AP and Instruction at College Board, claimed that once schools started closing “the AP program needed to make a decision.” Originally, they had considered canceling all the exams, but a survey sent to AP students worldwide brought in an overwhelming vote to continue testing for college credit.

According to the Los Angeles Times, many people support the changes since canceling the exams would cost the College Board “$1 billion worth of investments that could be utilized toward the betterment of next year’s SAT and AP tests” in addition to wasting the time and energy students put into studying. Even if the adjustments force students to completely change their preparation at the last minute, the Times claims that online testing is the most that can be done in a social-distancing world.

Many students nationwide do not believe the changes are beneficial for them, rather only profiting the College Board. Students were vocal on Twitter, claiming that the test is “a complete sham to make money for College Board” that does not have “the best interests of the students at heart” since it takes away from what students have been prepping for the entire school year. 

According to a recent virtual poll, PV students have a mixed response to the test changes.

Many claimed that taking the test at home and answering only one or two open-ended questions gave them less to stress over. Others cited potential problems that would greatly affect their score including internet connection and comprehension. “If students have technological errors, do not understand the single question at hand, or a variety of other issues, they will do extremely poorly on the test.” Tori Beard, a senior, says

Some of the biggest concerns, though, was the time limit of a mere 45 minutes and the content testing through open-ended questions. “I believe adding more time would alleviate some stress because students wouldn’t feel as if they were rushing.” Reese Landes, junior, says, “I also believe adding multiple-choice would better represent our knowledge on the subject because the questions would cover more topics than one or two free-response questions would.”

Despite all the difficulties from the changes, the students at PV know that the new AP exams are the best way to achieve their goal of scoring a great score and earning college credit. As Pia Nagac, a sophomore, says, “Due to our situation, I think that they did everything they could to accommodate everyone … and I figure that this would probably be the best way to handle it.”

Though it may not be the most desired result or circumstance, the AP exams will definitely be a change in tradition, for better or worse.