Coronavirus causes changes in College Board’s Advanced Placement exams

Courtesy of College Board

Test time--The recent events of COVID-19 has caused The College Board’s Advanced Placement testing to be altered so students can still participate in the exam and receive college credit. The College Board has been adjusting courses for teachers to finish out the course by the exam date.

Lily Mastrobattista, Features Editor

College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) tests have been altered due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The College Board released the new information for teachers and students on April 3 which listed the changes, format, scoring and other information needed to take the exam.

The exams will now be administered as a at home test, from May 11 through the 22, about a week earlier than the previous date. After conducting a survey, the general consensus of students performed an earlier test date “while the content is still fresh.” Students are able to take the exam at home or in schools if the schools are open.

Like previous exams, all subject tests will be administered on the same day; however, now with the at-home option, all students worldwide will be taking the test at the same time.

The exam formats will differ from the traditional AP style tests. Instead most exams will consist of one to two free-response questions, each question timed separately.

Typically, the original format of these exams have been multiple choice with a couple free response questions near the end. The original test would typically range from over two hours long; however, the at-home tests for most subjects this year will be 45 minutes long, with an additional five minutes for uploading. The College Board does suggest accessing the online testing system about 30
minutes earlier to set up.

Certain courses like Art classes, Computer sciences, research, or seminar will use a portfolio submission, and will not be having a separate online exam. The deadline for these submissions is extended to May 26.

World Language and culture exams will complete spoken tasks consistent with response questions that are currently on the AP exam. Although written responses will not be required.

The biggest concerns of most test takers have been the scoring process and college credit. The College Board will still be grading exams on a one through five scale and will be releasing scores in July like previous years. As of colleges accepting credit, many colleges have come out to say that they will accept the scores.

“We’re confident that the vast majority of higher-ed institutions will award college credit as they have in the past. We’ve spoken with hundreds of institutions across the country that support our solution for this year’s AP Exam” the Advanced Placement Program said on its website.

As far as security of the test, the College Board is formatting questions that are designed specifically for at-home administration; points
will not be earned from content that can be found in textbooks or online. They hope by doing this it will limit cheating and create an accurate scores for colleges.

“We’re confident the vast majority of AP students will follow the rules for taking the exams. For the small number of students who may try to gain unfair advantages, we have a comprehensive and strict set of protocols in place to prevent and detect cheating,” Advanced Placement Program said.

Changes to the AP course have been made. Many of the courses have eliminated that last few units of the symbols that many teachers were unable to get to in school. Specifically on some tests, the exam will only be focusing on some units.

On the AP United States History exam (APUSH), history teacher Meg Monaghan explained how the testwill be focusing on only units three through seven, eliminating much of the learned content. Monaghan explained how she is keeping her
coursework organized in order to keep the course on track to finish just in time for the exam. She has been using the high school’s Connected Learning by creating powerpoint presentations with voice overs and making herself available on Google Hangouts for any questions her students might have.

As for expectations on scoring, Monaghan is expecting that the scores might have some differences than previous years.

“I am trying to be more relaxed the scores because I think they will be a little bit different than they normally have been. They might
even be higher because it is possible that the test might be easier. But if the question is something that I have taught online only it might be more  difficult,” Monaghan said.

The APUSH exam will consist of one Document Based Question with five given documents, differing from the previous exams which included seven documents.

As students start to review and prepare for the test, many AP teachers, like Monaghan, feel their students are prepared.

“It should be an interesting opportunity. I hope students are not overly stressed and go into it trying their best and seeing it as an experience and not being overly worried about it,” Monaghan said.

For more information please visit College Board’s Advanced Placements website.