College Board releases new testing options for Advanced Placement students


For the Advanced Placement exams for the 2020 school year, the College Board had to make adjustments to their typical exams unlike anything seen before. 

Typically, the exams are taken in person and take several hours to complete. They include proctors and multiple different sections such as free-response, multiple-choice and speaking, depending on the exam subject. 

In order to receive college credit for these exams, students would have to pass the exam with a three or higher, however some universities would only accept a four or higher. 

Due to the unprecedented circumstances of distance learning for the 2020 school year, the exams were heavily modified to only a 45-minute exam with only one testing section such as one free-response or open-ended question. 

Students were assured that they would still receive college credit for passing these exams, but due to technical issues or the difficulties of learning virtually, these exams proved to cause even more stress and anxiety for some students than in years past. 

Jack Tetrault, a senior at Redlands East Valley high school, says, “Last year’s testing was insane. I know so many people that had to resubmit or retake their exams due to the computer issues. It was really stressful for all of us.” 

As AP students and teachers entered into the 2020-2021 school year, the question of whether this year’s exams were going to be modified again remained. 

Early on, the College Board assured the public that the exams were not going to be modified as they were in the year prior and that only adjustments according to the COVID-19 guidelines were going to be made as far as safe testing conditions were concerned. 

Now, with the exams just a few months away, the College Board has released the official protocol for this year’s exams. 

Image of high school senior, Lilian Mohr’s laptop as she views the new testing information for this upcoming AP exams. College Board has updated their site with all of the newest information on this year’s exams. (Lilian Mohr/ Ethic Photo)

Students will be given two different testing options; the first being the regular in-person exams, on paper and the second being online exams with a secured browser that is downloaded onto the testing devices ahead of time. The in-person exams will be done with masks-on, social distancing with only 16 students in a testing room at a time and plexy-glass dividers around desks. 

As far as the tests themselves go, the in-person and online exams will be almost identical with only small modifications to certain subjects made to account for the possibilities of handwritten work being recurred for subjects such as science or math. 

Both teachers of AP classes, along with the AP students themselves were notified of these testing adjustments. 

Christina Vargas is a senior at REV this year and is currently enrolled in multiple AP classes such as Statistics and Microeconomics. 

“I think the tests this year are going to be very difficult due to the fact that we have ‘learned’ everything online and are still expected to take the same test as students who have been back at school this whole time.” 

Skylar Watson, also a senior at REV and enrolled in a total of six AP courses this year, says, “I feel the tests seem a bit chaotic this year with the multiple testing options, which is adding a whole other level of stress.” 

AP French teacher Jennifer Baldwin says she is “hopeful that students who have been in distance learning the whole time will have the same chance of passing their tests as those who have not. I hope the test graders will keep in mind that not all students have had the same learning environment and instructional time this year.”

Baldwin also says, “I want to emphasize that one test score cannot determine how much a student has grown and how hard they have worked to get where they are. The quality work that my AP students have continued to do in less-than-ideal circumstances has motivated me to try and keep working as hard as they do.”

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