Advanced Placement advances into exam season

Anyone who has taken an AP Exam in the past knows how stressful the process can be. However, the certainty of the process was something that made the stress easier to endure. This year has promised to be just as unusual as the last, but it seems as though even with the differences, our AP Exams may be more certain than last year. 

The College Board has confirmed that AP Exams will cover all of the information that would traditionally be assessed, and they will consist of every section that would traditionally be administered. However, the timing and manners by which students can take these exams will look different this year.

According to the College Board, there will be three different administrations of the AP Exams this year. 

Administration One will take place early May and consists of “traditional, full-length paper and pencil exams, administered in school, for all subjects.” Administration Two will take place late May and “half of the subjects are paper and pencil, administered in school, and half are full-length digital exams, administered in school or taken at home due to coronavirus precautions.” Lastly, Administration Three will be early June and “most subjects are full-length digital exams only, administered in school or taken at home due to coronavirus precautions.”  

“[Masuk] is going with in-person traditional exams with the calendar for a couple of reasons,” said Lisa Peterson. “The first is with the AP exams at home, the digital exams, the time of the exams had to change because if people are taking it at home the time has to be consistent across all of the testers. You can’t accommodate time zones… Your exam either starts at noon or 4 p.m. So, that timing could easily conflict with any sports, after-school activities… And, the second reason we went that route is students who are taking exams at home on a computer have to have technology that meets the College Board security criteria, including cameras, microphones — there’s a lot of set up involved. And,… some of those AP exams, the longest ones can be closing in on four hours — you would have to be able to sit in a dedicated area with no interruption in internet for that entire exam time, and to be honest I am not sure if the College Board program would know that your internet just clicked out or that you didn’t log off. You know, for security reasons I think that we might be in a situation where a lot of people get kicked out and can’t finish the exam. So, with all of those unknowns, we are going with the traditional in-school testing format that we have always done.”

So, Masuk will have paper and pencil exams, and an email went out this March detailing when and where each exam will take place. However, digital exams this year would require students to install a digital exam application on their computer, and just like last year’s exams, security procedures will be in place to prevent cheating. For example, the College Board says that the test will “begin at the same time worldwide with synchronous section start times,” “not include questions that can be answered with internet searches, textbooks, notes study guides or similar material” and “include security features to prevent students from collaborating, accessing unauthorized aids or attempting to have someone else test for them.”

“All of the teachers know the curriculum that is being taught, know the exams, they have been teaching the courses in preparation for the exam the same way they have been doing in every other year. So, I have not heard any teachers saying that they have not been able to teach the course as would be necessary,” continued Peterson. “… [T]his year as we get closer to the exam, the College Board is going to release daily practice and preps on YouTube.” 

We have all certainly been putting in the effort to succeed, especially during these difficult times, and there are still many ways for AP students to prepare. 

“I’m glad we have an opportunity to earn college credit, but with the circumstances of COVID, I feel like it would have been nice to cancel it altogether because then it would prevent secondary stress that we really don’t need at this time,” said senior Arshriya Koul who is taking three AP exams and feels prepared for them. 

In spite of our efforts, some students are clearly feeling the looming stress of AP exams. Whether you feel confident going into this year’s exams or stressed like many others, exam season is almost here, and soon it will be over.

Image Credit: Laurie Coville
AP students are busy preparing for this upcoming exam season

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