The College Board Announces New Changes to AP Exams due to Covid-19 Pandemic

April 1, 2020

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(Photo Credit: Georgia Ruffolo/Achona Online)

On March 20, The College Board announced significant changes happening for the 2019-2020 school year's AP Exam format and distribution. (Photo Credit: Georgia Ruffolo/Achona Online)

Significant changes have been made to the Advanced Placement program exams for the 2019-2020 school year amid the current Covid-19 pandemic. According to The Washington Post, “The Advanced Placement exam will be administered as a 45-minute online test this spring, compared with the usual three-hour, in-person affair” that will only test material learned early on in the school year. Furthermore, all AP tests will consist of only free-response questions as opposed to including both free response and multiple choice questions. 

Izzy Krawetz (‘20) said, “The severity of the Coronavirus didn’t hit me until the College Board announced the changes to this year’s AP exams. As for the new rules, I think that it’s great that students still have the opportunity to earn college credits, but it raises the concern for cheating as we all know that’s inevitable amongst teenagers. However, I feel that cheating won’t be much of an issue for the College Board to avoid if they can propose a take-home exam.” 

The announcement has vital involvement in Florida, which has been among the nation’s leaders in AP exam participation in recent years. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Fifty-six percent of the students in the Class of 2019 took at least one Advanced Placement course and test, with 32.3 percent of them earning at least one score of 3 or higher, which can generate college credits. In May 2019, Florida public and private high school students took a total of 215,120 AP exams that resulted in scores of 3, 4, or 5, the state Department of Education reported.

The College Board acknowledged in its announcement that test security is one of its primary concerns. “The at-home AP Exams this year will not include any multiple-choice questions, only free-response questions adapted for secure testing at home,” Trevor Packer, College Board senior vice president for AP, explained on Twitter. “They will measure skills that can’t be learned from Google or chats with friends.” The board also promised that although “security” concerns are important, “exam questions are designed and administered in ways that prevent cheating,” by using technology such as “plagiarism detection software.” 

AP Literature teacher, Virginia Pendleton, said, “My biggest concern is how colleges will potentially view the AP exam with the drastic changes College Board is implementing. Will they still give students college credit based upon a 45 minute FRQ? From a results perspective, I’m hoping that the majority of students will pass. In AP lit, for example, students really struggle with the multiple choice section. By removing the multiple choice, my hope is that students scores will increase.”

The College Board plans to provide free resources to students in AP courses to help prepare for all upcoming exams. Starting on March 25, “students will have access to free, live AP review courses delivered by AP teachers from across the country”. Pre-recorded videos and live streaming will be available to AP students on a variety of platforms, such as YouTube, as well as The College Board Website itself. By having these services be readily available, AP students can now continue to utilize useful studying habits and techniques while remaining outside a traditional classroom or tutoring setting.

Sam Miller (‘20) said, “One of my biggest concerns since being out of school has been preparing for my AP exams, especially for my AP Calculus class. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to pass if I had to take it upon myself to study independently, but now with The College Board giving us the opportunity to learn from their AP videos, I am much more confident in myself and my chances of passing my exam. I think that I speak for all AP students when I say these videos are a huge advantage to us during this time of preparation, since an interactive environment isn’t available to us anymore.” 

One concern that has become widely recognized since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak  has been the divide in technology and how lower-income AP students may not have the proper resources to take their AP exams or participate in online class. Fortunately, The College Board disclosed on their website that, if needed, they would provide computers free of charge for students who did not own or cannot afford one to complete their AP exam. “We know that not all students have access to the internet or a device. We’re working on solutions to help students get what they need to show their best work. If you need mobile tools or connectivity or know someone who does, you can reach us directly to let us know.”

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