AP exams bring a whole new experience for schools

Hannah Lorenzo, Copy Chief

This year has brought stress and fear to people due to COVID-19, especially for high school students. With the school year being cut short and stay at home orders being implemented, students who have been preparing for their upcoming AP exams are at a loss for words. For a while, no one had any knowledge as to whether or not the AP exams would be canceled or if the format would change altogether. Regardless, it is clear to see that the students have multiple opinions on the matter.

During the month of April, College Board has released more information regarding the AP exams in the US. From testing dates, test content, and the new online format, teachers and students alike can lessen their worries of going into their exams blindly. Of course, this online structure is completely different from what schools are used to, but there have been resources to help ease the way to online learning. Zoom chats and AP review sessions provided by College Board on YouTube have been successful in aiding schools all over the US. Access to specific content regarding test topics as well as communication between teachers and students right from the comfort of home have been very beneficial.

Although much support has gone into developing the online format for the AP exams, this setback has put schools into a difficult position, specifically for teachers and students. Since the exams will be taken at home, they have been significantly shortened, where only one or two sections out of the normal test will be administered. Although some students are relieved of the stress of having to take a test with multiple sections, others feel cheated out of the hard work that went into preparation for a full-blown test. Throughout the school year, students were taught the necessary topics and techniques that were expected to be on their future AP exams. With the shortened versions removing significant parts, some believe that their hours of study sessions and practice have been for nothing.

Not to mention, teachers have also been in a state of confusion and frustration. The announcement of online learning has forced teachers to switch to an online basis, which has not been smooth sailing for all. Teachers now only have a limited amount of time through Zoom to teach their students the AP content, some of which was not taught yet due to the stay at home orders, leaving teachers in a frenzy as they attempt to provide all the information necessary online. Once again, students begin to feel that sense of stress trying to take in all the new content while separated from the norm of learning in a classroom setting. 

Specifically pertaining to the AP exams, there are several variables that bring uncertainty. In the last week of April, College Board sent an important email referring to the exact format of the exams. Aspects, such as login information, submission process, and permitted devices, were explained in detail to ensure that on test day, students will be more comfortable. However, questions continue to circulate the US as more information is released. Those without easy access to a device that is compatible with the exam format have become too worried about this issue, moving their focus away from studying the required content for the exams. Also, due to the online switch, students are thinking about whether it is better to write or type and how to input their answers from a keyboard instead of pencil and paper, highlighting that the 2020 exams are adding distractions that seem to be detrimental for schools. 

Despite the major change for AP testing, the US has given their best effort to support schools while fighting against COVID-19, which showcases the nation’s determination to maintain a normalcy in education. Although the AP exams have proven to be an obstacle, schools are cooperating and interacting with other schools all over the US, providing more confidence for those at home as there are more opportunities to share thoughts on the exams and insight into how to approach this situation.