Due to the COVID-19 outbreak around the world, College Board has decided to adjust the AP Exams, in which students will take their exams at home for the 2019-2020 school year. .
On Mar. 23, the Advanced Placement Program sent out an email to their students informing them that this year’s AP exam will be shorter than usual and will not be covering all the information they have in the past. The College Board decided to only cover the units that most teachers covered through March. This email also informed students that the College Board would now be offering review sessions on YouTube for all the AP courses.
On April 3, the Advanced Placement Program sent out another email with specific information about testing days and what the test will look like depending on the course. They also asked those that don’t have internet access to reach out to them as soon as possible to find a way to help the students. Even if certain districts reopen, the decision of making the exams shorter remains.
Senior Zitlalith Cortes, a current AP Government and Politics and AP Psychology student, said in an interview via email on April 4 that she believes that the new format of the exam will benefit her. Cortes stated, “It is easier to do [the exam] on the computer rather than going to school and going through a whole process of instructions. I think it is going to be faster to do, and it’s at home, so I’m going to be comfortable doing it.”
Sophomore Mariana Villegas, a current AP World History and AP Spanish Language student, agrees with Cortes. Villegas said in an interview via text on April 3 that she believes the change will benefit her because “the exam[s] are now open note which can come in handy if [she] were to be stuck on a question.”
A few AP students also agree that just because the AP Exam is not the way it was expected to be at the beginning of the school year, it does not mean that the work that they put in was a waste of time. Junior Cristian Gutierrez, an AP English Literature and Composition and AP U.S. History student, said in an interview via text on April fourth that “the open note part will serve as a guide but my knowledge should do the job.” Similarly, sophomore Julian Morales, an AP World History student, said, “The hard work and effort I’ve put in throughout the year will not go to waste because the exam is now a free response question and you can’t just guess” in an interview via text on April third.
Although some students such as Cortes and Villegas see this exam as a benefit, others see this as a disadvantage like Gutierrez. Gutierrez said, “I don’t see the test being online as a benefit because I feel like it can jeopardize my chances at college credit. Any small error can cause my test to be invalidated.”
Morales does not really think that the AP exam being online will affect him positively or negatively. Morales stated, “It’s not the test alone that will get me a good score, it’s the work I put in.” Morales would also like to take the test at school because he feels like there are more distractions at home.
AP students are not the only ones being affected by the change. Teachers are also having to adjust the curriculum to better aid their students during these times. Charles Rosentel, AP World History teacher, said in an interview via email on April 4 that he plans to focus on specific skills with his students in order to make sure they do well in their exam in May. Rosentel also plans on having virtual review sessions, which is something that was done on Saturdays and in-person in past years.
Rosentel also stated that “[he has] reservations about the change but find[s] it to be an understandable compromise given the unprecedented circumstances.” He adds that there are a few challenges presented such as “the technological requirements present [an] issue of equity as not all students have equal access to internet-connected devices nor equal computer skills.” He also said that the test now being a single DBQ can put some students at an advantage or disadvantage since some students might have greater knowledge in specific time periods.
AP exams were 3-4 hours long in past years and would cover more content, which has changed this year. The exam dates and times have also changed so that the exam is taken at the same time worldwide.
Colleges, for the most part, will accept AP credit earned from these exams. The AP exams are also expected to go back to normal next school year. Rosentel advises AP students to do all the work their teachers assign because it will be helpful. Rosentel also stated, “anyone out there thinking they can cheat, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.”