Students, teachers have ‘mixed feelings’ regarding AP exam changes

By changing the format of the AP exams to allow them online, giving students the ability to take the tests from home.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the College Board offered shortened AP exams to students or the ability to cancel their exams with a full refund.
The College Board changed to a 45 minute exam, with e-tickets to personalize each student’s exam and built in cheating preventatives.
“I have mixed feelings [about the exam]. I am glad the College Board was able to figure out some way to test students online,” social studies teacher Jessica Muller said. “However, the exam was very much so less comprehensive than usual. In addition, the online format created unforeseen problems for students.” Muller teaches AP Government and Politics.
The College Board reported students having difficulty with submissions, and for the second week of exams students were able to submit via email if the response was time-stamped. For the first week, any failed submissions meant retaking the exam.
One of Muller’s students reported submission problems and will have to retake the exam in June.
The Washington Post reported that some parents felt retaking the exam was unnecessary since many students had proof of when they tried to submit answers.
According to junior Anna Lesher, she did not like the new format for the exams.
“I also am not happy with the fact that the culmination of months of learning and struggling is a 45 minute, 2 question exam,” Lesher said. “More than just that, it feels like I was cheated out of money. I was paying for a nearly 3 hour exam and instead I got this?”
However, junior Marco Clark preferred the two-question exam.
“I personally liked the format, as I tend to do better with free response. So I really liked the overall shortened format,” Clark said.
The shortened format only represented the material that would have been taught while school was in session, to prevent situations where students were unable to learn the material that would be on the test.
According to social studies teacher Nicole Harner, the College Board implied that her students would all be receiving the same two questions for the exam, so her students were surprised when they received different questions. Harner teaches AP Human Geography.
For Lesher, she found the time constraints of the test stressful for her AP European History exam, since she had to read and interpret documents.
Lesher felt that the College Board spent too much time trying to prevent cheating on the exams. According to The Washington Post, some students believe that the College Board set up false social media accounts to lure students into cheating.
Lesher, Clark, Harner and Muller agree that online exams should not be offered in the future, especially due to the security risks.
“If they are to receive college credit [for the exams], the exams need to be extensive and without the ability to use sources,” Harner said.