From May 11 to May 22, students in the US and across the world took their Advanced Placement (AP) exams online. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first time in AP history that students were able to take their tests at home and not in a traditional classroom setting with a proctor. A specific time and date was released for each exam, and everyone had to check their specific exam schedule for any updates on timing and procedure. This year’s exam only included FRQ, Free Response Questions, with some tests featuring only one or two questions, depending on the subject.. A strict 50-minute limit was also set for all exams, with 45 minutes designated for writing and problem solving and 5 minutes for uploading your answers. Test takers had to either submit their typed answers through an attached text file (such as .txt, .pdf, or .doc), take a picture of written responses and upload them, or copy and paste answers into the text space that was provided on the exam website.
Students and teachers scrambled to adapt to the new testing format after the College Board announced the shift to online exams in March. College Board provided many helpful resources that allowed students to prepare for their specific exam. Some resources included online study sessions with instructors for each class, practice exams, and a demo exam which provided timed practice in both writing and uploading submissions. This year’s online format potentially posed problems for students who don’t have a computer at home or lack internet access, therefore the online AP exam was designed to be smartphone accessible as well as via desktop or laptop. Any student who did not have proper internet access was encouraged to contact the College Board so that the organization could provide help through assistive technology software.
On exam days, the majority of the students were able to successfully submit their exams on time with no trouble. On the other hand, 1% (around 10,000 students) had trouble submitting their tests; these students will be required to retake exams in June. As test schedules were global in order to promote academic integrity, many international students sat for exams at unusual times; from the wee hours of the morning to late at night.
My experience with AP testing went smoothly and I was able to successfully submit my work on time. I was nervous about the formatting of the test and was especially concerned with the time frame. This was my second time taking AP tests and even though this year’s exam time was a fraction of last year’s, I was able to manage my time efficiently, especially since I prepared and studied thoroughly with the new guidelines.
After frantic preparation by both students and teachers, it seems like the first-ever online, at home AP exams were a relative success, and gives further proof that we are rising to the occasion and moving on with our lives in spite of adjustments in the age of Coronavirus.
Jonathan Chun, Grade 10
West Ranch High School