AP Exams have been Moved to a Virtual Format due to COVID-19


Abby Prywitch

The Princeton review book for the AP World History Exam.

Abby Prywitch, Managing Editor

While the new coronavirus has impacted many things to be canceled and closed, AP Exams will still be taken this school year.

However, due to schools closing, students will no longer be able to take these exams in person at school. The College Board wanted to find a solution so students would still be able to receive credit for the courses they took in the 2019-2020 school year.

“The overwhelming feedback was that students still wanted the opportunity to take the exam, so I am glad that The College Board worked to find a solution,” said Nana Prange, Post-Secondary and Assessment Counselor. 

The College Board decided to shorten each exam to be 45 minutes with an additional 5 minutes to submit answers. Most exams are now one to two free-response questions. Students will now be taking these exams from their own homes between May 11-22.  For each AP exam there are two dates offered for students to take it: the primary exam date and the make up exam date. All students will have to take the exam at the given time for their specific date. 

Since all exams will be taken from home, there will not be proctors.  Exams are now open book/open note. However, students are not allowed to talk with other individuals during the testing period.

“My biggest concern is that students will see ‘open book’ and ‘open note’ and feel that they won’t need to prepare as much for the exam,” Prange said. 

While the exams are open book/open note students are still being timed, so they will not have much time to look things up while taking the exam.

Senior Gracie May will be taking the AP Psychology exam. May will be taking advantage of her extra time and using her time at home to help prepare more for her exam.

Alec Gamache, junior, will be taking three AP exams this school year and is changing his study plans due to this change.

“I will prepare less because the test is only writing, so it will be easier to get a good score,” Gamache said.  

The College Board is designing these exams to be taken at a home setting and they have specific security measures set in place to avoid cheating.

According to a statement released by the College Board on April 3, “The exam format and questions are being designed specifically for an at-home administration, so points will not be earned from content that can be found in textbooks or online.”

AP US Government and AP Comparative Politics teacher, Skylar Kim, is impressed with how quickly they were able to come up with this response. Kim does not think these changes will affect how students are scored by readers, but she thinks the disruption this has caused in everyday life will affect the ability for her students to perform as if there hadn’t been a significant disruption.

 “However, most students are in the same boat, and I’m sure the College Board will take that into consideration,” Kim said.

She does not like that for her two classes that students will have to write argumentative essays in 25 minutes that will count for over 50% of their exam grade.

 “This is particularly frustrating because students can only score negligible points if they do not receive the thesis point.  While I understand the importance of a thesis, I do not think that it should be the basis of determination for college credit for my political science courses… I’m confident in my student’s ability to write a strong thesis but it bums me out that so much of their score hinges on it,” Kim said. 

Kim is currently trying to keep things in her class pretty similar with eLearning, so her students feel a familiarity with how she is teaching in hopes of providing comfort.

“Since my class is about comparing six different government systems, I’m trying to keep that the same for the last two countries so kids can compare more easily,” Kim said.

Because Parkway teachers cannot assign more than 90 minutes of work per week. Kim has cut out non-essential information and moved faster through her comparative politics course. Due to the dates of exams being pushed back, Kim’s classes will now start their AP exam  review earlier which will allow them more time to go over it all.
Math teacher Tom Schaefer teaches AP Calc BC and his class will also be affected by this change. Usually, the test for his class runs three hours and consists of 45 multiple choice questions and six word problems.  It has now been condensed into two written questions, which Schaefer thinks will be more challenging. 

“One mistake could be critical,” Schaefer said. 

 To help prepare his class for this change, they will practice a lot more written questions with a calculator since there are no multiple choice and non-calculator questions now.

 “I think it has always been difficult to assess a student’s knowledge and development of material in a subject over the course of a year with just one test.  This year it is even more difficult doing it with just a two question test. It is obviously not ideal, but I am not sure how else to handle it, but more questions I think could help,” Schaefer said. 

The College Board has acknowledged that not every student has the same access to technology and they are still in the process of working to make sure that all students have access to mobile tools and the internet. The College Board is offering free daily reviews on their AP YouTube channel as one way to help students prepare for their exams,  

It has also been recommended by the College Board that students try to test on the first exam date offered for it in case a glitch or technical issue arises. 

Students will still be scored on a 1-5 scale and they hope to still release scores as close to the original July timeframe that they can. There are many questions students and teachers might still have. Some students are worried if colleges will accept the credit the same as in the past. The College Board has talked with over 100 institutions from all around the country who are in support of the decision that they made for this year’s AP exam. 

According to The College Board, “We’re confident that the vast majority of higher education institutions will award credit and/or placement as they have in the past.”

Despite the quick adjustment made by the college board, Schaefer wishes things were different.

“This is a difficult situation.  I feel bad for the seniors in so many ways, this is just one more obstacle to overcome.  I believe in my students though and hope they will be as successful as I know them to be,” Schaefer said. 

Like AP exams, ACT and SAT have also been affected by COVID-19. Right now both of those tests do not have an online option which could be causing additional worry to the junior class, as test dates have been cancelled. This could change a lot of things for the class of 2021’s admission process and some colleges have already made changes.

Some universities have announced they will be going test-optional and it is predicted that more schools will announce this as times goes on. 

Coronavirus is not stopping prospective students from looking at schools and talking with representatives. Many schools have brought tours online into a virtual setting to allow students to still get a feel for their school. 

Junior Melanie Gubernik has been taking advantage of the virtual college tours. She has done virtual tours of Syracuse, University of Miami and did an informational session for the University of Wisconsin Madison. 

“I like being able to get a sense of all these different campuses even when I’m not able to go,” Gubernik said.