AP Tests Adapt to Distant Learning


Abby Turner, Writer

With the spread of the coronavirus, schools across the nation have moved to online distance learning. As the end of the year wraps up, each school is individually faced with how they must go about finals. But Advanced Placement, or AP, final exams are universal tests that students from all across the world take, so to accommodate everyone’s situation they have moved the exam to an at-home online test. The condensed and open note tests may seem like an easy way to score a 5 on the exam, but the new format puts more weight on extended response questions than ever before. Will this new exam format benefit students and act as a fair representation of their efforts in AP classes?

On March 20th, College Board, the college not-for-profit organization in charge of AP classes, announced the newly revised testing procedures. Students will take the now 45 minute exam, usually given under strict rules at schools, at home on their device at a certain time when the test is administered. The College Board removed all multiple choice questions and left extended response questions, called DBQ’s or FRQ’s in some AP classes. Before the change, multiple-choice questions represented a majority of the exam grade in many classes. For example, the multiple-choice section on the AP Psychology exam represented 66 percent of the exam grade. Now, two extended response questions represent the entire AP exam grade. This raises the question if this change will make the exam harder since most AP classes spend more time on multiple-choice or terminology than extended response.

While the extended response may seem challenging, here’s the catch: the exam is open note. This means students can use any notes and materials accumulated over the course to help them on the exam. This does not mean students will be able to video chat or work together with other students. Open note does not necessarily mean students won’t have to study for the exam. To complete the entire exam in forty-five minutes, students must know the content and only refer to the notes if needed.

The change to at-home and open-note exams gives students more ability to cheat on the exam. To avoid “test leaking,” or releasing the questions to the internet, students all around the world have to take the exam at the same time. For international students, this could mean taking an exam in the middle of the night. The questions on the exam will not be able to be looked up on the internet. Students will have to analyze the question and application of material from multiple units. Also, AP teachers will be able to view student’s responses to detect any answer that doesn’t match their typical work. If caught cheating, the College Board has placed heavy repercussions that will follow a student through their academic career. College Board will forfeit the score, deny the student from taking any more APs, and notify colleges that may be receiving an SAT score from this student.

At Liberty, while remote learning continues, teachers are figuring out creative ways to teach their AP students. From Zoom lessons to practice questions, the teachers at Liberty are working to give their students the best chance on the AP Exams.

Good luck everyone on your AP exams!