Wayne Valley Students Take Historic AP Exams

From May 11-22, 2020, the College Board implemented historic online AP testing for millions of high school students across the globe. Traditionally, AP exams are taken on paper and feature both multiple-choice and free-response sections. However, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing students home and shutting entire nations down, the College Board had to improvise. 


In a public statement, the College Board announced, “We made the decision to offer the 2020 AP Exams online because students overwhelmingly told us they wanted to test, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.” Despite the cancellation of other major tests, such as the SATs and IB exams, the College Board explained they wanted to continue AP testing to ensure students could still have the opportunity to earn college credit. 


This year’s exam was redesigned for students to take at home on their own devices. Each test was shortened to just 45 minutes long, with additional time to submit responses in the online portal. The College Board also narrowed the scope of the test to cover only what most AP teachers would have taught by mid-March when schools began closing. The organization also offered online review sessions to help alleviate gaps in learning. 


In newly released data, it appears that the vast majority of test takers were able to complete their exams successfully. However, thousands of students experienced technical difficulties and were forced to register for a makeup exam. Many complained that the testing platform would not allow them to submit their answers. After huge public backlash, the College Board announced that for the second and final week of testing, students with unsuccessful submissions could send their responses to a unique email as a backup option. The success of this accommodation remains unclear. 


Beyond technical difficulties, students and teachers criticized the College Board for a wide range of issues including gaps in accessibility and the contents of the test itself. While some students may have steady wifi and a quiet home, others may have an unreliable connection and noisy distractions. Many people were also upset that the redesigned exam was so different from what they had been preparing for all year. 


After taking her AP US History exam, junior Hope Mandler commented, “I don’t think a 45-minute exam is a good measurement of my knowledge and the College Board should have formatted the tests in a more realistic way.” 


Overall, although certainly not perfect, AP exams were able to be administered and the testing season has finally concluded. Students and teachers will now have to wait and see the results of these historic exams.