Advanced Placement Exams Altered to 45-minute At-Home Tests

Danny Murnin | Assistant News Editor

With the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases causing school closures around the country, the College Board made the decision to drastically change the way Advanced Placement (AP) exams will be taken in May. 

Usually, students enrolled in AP classes will take their exams during a school day during a period that stretches a number of hours. The exams consist of both free-response and multiple-choice questions. This year, all exams will be taken at-home online, be 45 minutes long, and have no multiple choice. Social Studies teacher Mary Jo Bauer said she is changing lesson plans for the AP Comparative Government and Politics class she teaches as a result.

“The biggest issue for me right now is that the comparative government exam will be over themes, not countries,” Bauer said. “Having only taught three of the six countries, I am forced to reduce our coverage of the remaining countries to the three themes that the exam is to assess.”

School testing coordinator Jennifer Kottmann said rather than scrapping the exams completely, the College Board went ahead with a shortened exam because it would be the easiest thing to do for both parties.

“Cancelling all exams could have a negative effect on students who were counting on the exam for college course credit or placement,” Kottmann said. “Also, because exam fees were already paid, this prevents the College Board from having to refund fees to hundreds of thousands of students across the world.”

Junior Kendall Spencer, who is enrolled in four AP classes, said she agrees with not canceling the exams.

“I’ve worked really hard in these classes and they haven’t been easy, so I want the opportunity to earn something,” Spencer said.

On the contrary, junior Sophia Valenti said she thinks the exams should have been canceled due to the possibility of results that don’t accurately reflect what a student learned during the course.

“I think the College Board should have canceled the test completely because the results might be skewed since the test will be taken at home, and it will be easier for students to cheat,” Valenti said. 

The College Board has provided more guidance than usual in preparation for the altered exams. Kottmann said students should take advantage of them.

“AP has enhanced AP Classroom online to include online lessons taught for each unit by AP high school teachers. There are also progress checks, released exam questions and other resources available. The exams will only cover the first 75% of the content of the course, and they are being very transparent with students about what content to expect and focus on reviewing,” Kottmann said.

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