By Alaina Fox
Given the growing emphasis on social distancing and the cancellation of in-person school throughout the country, the College Board announced on Mar. 23 that AP exams would undergo significant changes this year.
Normally hours long and consisting of multiple choice questions coupled with free response questions, AP exams this year will take 45 minutes and only include free response questions. Also, because of the challenge that disrupted education poses to students’ ability to learn and practice, the College Board narrowed the exams’ content to cover “topics and skills most AP teachers and students have already covered in class by early March.” Additionally, rather than in proctored environments at schools, students will take their tests at home.
The College Board will offer two exam dates, but has yet to announce the dates. This opportunity will allow students to either take the test while the content is fresh, or wait until they have had time to learn everything necessary; if needed, refunds will also be available. Until then, the College Board will provide recordings of AP review lessons and online resources for practice.
Sophomore Tatum Thomas, who spent this year preparing for her first AP exam with European History, felt that the College Board should have completely cancelled the tests given the current crisis. She noted, “I was surprised that with all that’s going on in the world, the exams were still taking place. The 45 minute time limit was the most shocking to me. I didn’t, and still don’t, understand how we are supposed to demonstrate college level knowledge of hundreds of years in history in 45 minutes!”
Another student, however, felt frustrated that after a year’s worth of intensive study, they would have little to show for their efforts. Eddy Byun, a senior taking AP tests in Government, Chemistry, Biology, Calculus BC, and Spanish, felt “robbed.” He commented, “A year of learning, and to determine our aptitude, College Board releases a 45 minute exam? If you have the technology for a 45 minute exam, why can’t you extend that to a three to four hour exam?” Byun also lamented the potential impact of the changes on the future of his education. “I’m going to college in months,” he explained, “and I want to take challenging courses. I don’t want to take [these classes] again. That’s a waste of tuition, which is thousands of dollars.”
Facing criticism from students who want the College Board to either cancel or extend the tests, the College Board is still grappling with the best way to proceed. Students and teachers can expect the College Board to release more thorough information regarding the AP exams by Apr. 3 at the latest.
(Source: AP Central)