Some 3.4 million students have registered to take the AP Exams this year, which began on Monday, but they’re not taking the typical pencil-and-Scantron tests. Instead, students this year will be taking an abridged version of the AP Exams online. The traditional marathon-like tests have become free response exams that will last for just 45 minutes. This change, among many others, has garnered lukewarm reception even before testing began. Will these altered AP Exams carry the same weight as normal tests? And how will students perform on them, given all that has happened since the last time their AP courses convened in the classroom?
The reinvented AP Exams go beyond just restricting the content of the test. The College Board has announced that AP Exams will only review material that teachers covered in their classes by the beginning of March, before most states’ stay at home orders. Furthermore, students will be able to reference their own notes – making the AP Exams open-book tests for the first time ever. The tests will be administered wholly online, and to prevent cheating every exam will have consistent testing periods across all time zones. For students in the continental United States, this won’t have much of an impact on when they take the test. But for international AP students, their assigned testing periods will be at odd hours – for China, the first test period was this morning at 4 a.m.!
Students across the county have had mixed reception to this altered test. Some lament the loss of multiple-choice questions, as they feel that area is their strong suit. Others who excel at writing are glad that the test is only free response, but they worry that the top schools they want to attend won’t honor these AP Exams with the same amount of college credit that they give the traditional test. And many students who do not have consistent access to high speed internet or an appropriate device are forced to scramble to find other means of taking the test – including piggybacking off a local Wi-Fi hotspot while taking the exam in their cars.
So far, students that took exams on Monday say the most frustrating feature was the upload time, which is incorporated into the 45-minute time limit. Expect to spend 5 to 10 minutes uploading your responses, and budget your exam time accordingly.
What are your thoughts on the special AP Exam format? Let us know in the comments, and good luck to all who are testing this year!