2020 AP Exams to continue online with structural changes

Emma Edmund, Print Managing Editor

Evanston high school students can still take their Advanced Placement Exams while learning from home, but the College Board has moved them online and cut the hours-long tests to just 45 minutes.

The exams are structured in a free response fashion, with the exam material only covering up to what most classes would have learned by early March, according to the College Board’s website. The exams will take place from May 11 through May 22.

Most tests should take about 45 minutes, but students will have to go online 30 minutes before the exam starts to set up, and will have five minutes after the exam to upload their tests. In comparison, regular AP Exams usually take two to three hours, and can have a combination of multiple choice and free response questions.

Students can type up their responses or take a photo of written responses, and can use any device they have access to, from a phone to a computer. Students who do not have access to such devices can fill out this form by April 24.

“These at-home testing options will provide more than three million students worldwide the opportunity to earn the college credit and placement they’ve been working hard toward all school year,” wrote Jerome White, the director of media relations and external communications for the College Board, in an email to The Daily. “The College Board surveyed 18,000 AP students, and 91 percent indicated they want to complete this important step, urging the organization not to cancel these exams.”

For AP world language and culture exams, however, students will complete two spoken tasks, with no written responses required. For students taking exams with portfolio submissions, such as AP Drawing, the board extended the time period to submit their portfolios.

As teachers transition to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they also have to incorporate the new AP changes into their curriculum without meeting students in person. David Feeley, who teaches AP United States Government and Politics at Evanston Township High School, said a majority of his students still want to take the exam.

He sent out a survey just days ago to his students, and said out of those who responded, 90 percent said they wanted to take the test.

“I did have kids right before we got out, a few that seemed stressed out that we were going to be gone, wondering how we were going to study for the AP Exam,” Feeley said. “What I’ve heard is that if they have a teacher that they feel like they trust over the last six months of teaching, they’ll take the test.”

The College Board is tackling another challenge: the possibility of cheating with the new exam. The board noted tests will go through plagiarism-detection software, and copies will be sent to students’ AP teachers, who can then attempt to spot inconsistencies with students’ known work.

Students who are found to have cheated will have their scores canceled and that information sent to their high schools and to every college to which they apply or have applied. They may also be barred from taking future College Board exams, including the SAT.

Robert Franek, the editor in chief of The Princeton Review, said his organization’s videos on general AP changes are the most popular videos students currently watch. After that, he said, videos on the most popular exams, such as AP Psychology and AP United States History, gain the most traction.

In addition to the new format, the College Board has made AP Exams open book and open notes. But Franek said that constantly looking up information, especially if a student doesn’t need to, can take away precious time from the 45-minute exam.

“It’s a knowable and a navigable exam,” Franek said. “(Students) should feel just as confident around this new exam because they’ve been prepping for it all year long. They’ve been doing the work all year long in their actual classes.”

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Twitter: @emmaeedmund

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