by Jayne Chacko, ABC.com, April 30, 2020
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHAM) – Many high school students are getting ready for AP exams, but the coronavirus has changed how those tests will be carried out. AP exams will now be taken online, at home and open book.
AP exams are run by The College Board and are usually three hours long. This year, they’re 45 minutes.
There will be no multiple choice questions – only essay-based questions that students must finish and upload within 45 minutes.
“It’s going to be harder to get a better score because they’re so much shorter and there’s not as much content on them, so your questions matter more,” said Livonia High School senior Nina Monteleone.
Another big change this year is that students can use notes during the exam. Livonia High School AP exam coordinator and counselor Peggy Hooker says taking the test at home could take pressure off for some students.
“For a lot of students, that reduces test anxiety because they are in an environment that’s very comfortable. They’re not looking at other students in terms of how they’re progressing. It’s just the student and the computer,” said Hooker.
But Monteleone is worried about staying focused at home.
“It’s going to be hard to focus for 45 minutes in an environment I’m not used to. I’ve never taken a huge test like that in my home,” said Monteleone.
She says one of the hardest parts of taking the exam at home is not being surrounded by her peers.
“Taking APs without my classmates is going to be hard because we all have a support system and we get to have fun with each other before and after to keep mentally aware during the exam, and that relieves some stress,” said Monteleone.
AP exam coordinators say only content from September to March will be on the exams. Victor High School assistant principal and AP exam coordinator Karl Dubash says The College Board provides a timeline of instruction material to teachers every year.
“But even if AP did change a few things up and some teachers may not have covered that topic in its entirety, I think there is enough time to cover some of those topics,” said Dubash.
Hooker says students who don’t receive a score of 3 or higher still have a chance to do better.
“The student has the opportunity to contact their classroom teacher and ask them to review the content and engage with the AP faculty member who actually scored the test to see if there’s movement in terms of what the grade is. That’s unprecedented. The College Board has never offered that,” said Hooker.
The College Board is using software to detect cheating. If a student is caught cheating, they can’t take any more exams through The College Board, and colleges will be notified.
Hooker believes even with all the changes, her students can handle the challenge.
“I am really encouraging all of our students to take the exam,” she said. “I think it says a lot about their character, that even during challenging times, they are stepping up and they’re finishing a job that they started.”