Changes to 2020 AP exams amidst coronavirus pandemic

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Audrey Pucciarelli and Jake White

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the College Board has decided to make substantial changes to the format of this year’s AP Exams. The exams, taken by high school students in May to receive college credit, will now be offered online to all students as schools shut down. 

Each exam will be shortened to 45 minutes in comparison to the typical three-hour in-person exam, and will consist of only free-response questions. This differs from the usual AP exam, which contains multiple-choice questions in addition to free-response questions. The content of the exams will focus on what most schools were able to teach by early March. 

Students will be able to take the exam on any technological device they have access to—this includes computers, tablets and even smartphones. They will also be given the option to write their responses and then submit a photo of their work. The online exam will feature a “lockdown” browser, which prevents students from using the internet to aid them while taking the test. 

Many believe that the shortened exam and open-notes element of some exams will make this year’s AP exams substantially easier, but that is not how all students and teachers feel. Senior Katie Hynes feels that the new changes to the test “take pressure off the exam and could be beneficial for everyone,” especially during these stressful times.

However, WHS senior Julia Guedes believes the opposite. “I don’t think it is a gift, because although we will now be able to have resources, [the content] still is mainly coming from our knowledge on each topic,” said Guedes. “The questions will most likely be less straightforward and more difficult.” 

Another issue lingering for students is the shortened time period for the exams and whether it is enough time to finish. If students spend too much time reviewing their notes, then they might not have enough time to answer each question completely. Senior Havana Mohr- Ramirez says, “I am not entirely sure I will get to use my notes but I will definitely need them.”

Without these changes to the AP tests, colleges would have been in a difficult situation trying to figure out how students would take their exams. These changes are now allowing high school students to receive the credit they deserve from their year of hard work.