Students react to updated AP exams

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For the 2020 AP exams, students were allowed to take the exam on any device they wanted, resulting in a smoother testing experience. (Photo/College Board)

With self isolation becoming a new normal for many students, the announcement of virtual Advanced Placement (AP) exams came as no surprise. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, College Board announced in April that AP exams would be administered virtually with some changes. 

According to the College Board, exams would be a total of 50 minutes each (including submission time) and would consist of only free response questions. College  Board also decided to have exams only cover what students should have learned before school closures. In an update on the online exams, College Board stated that some students may “have lost more instructional time than others,” urging them to have exams only include the topics “most teachers and students have already covered in class by early March.” 

The change had warranted many mixed emotions among students, however. Senior Benjamin Taubman was not very optimistic going into the exam. He admitted that the “limited format of the questions made a lot of [his] preparations obsolete.” Taubman also feels as if the lack of the multiple choice questions was not a benefit. “The multiple choice section is usually the easiest part of the exam,” said Taubman. 

For junior Ashni Zaverchand, the issue of timing and submitting caused a lot of  anxiety. However, with the help of the demo College Board provided, she was able to practice submitting in different formats and become more comfortable. Zaverchand admitted to stressing about the content she was going to encounter during the exam. 

“I didn’t want to regret having all the notes that I needed out and risk missing important information,” said Zaverchand. 

Along with that, Zaverchand was also concerned about the 45 minute time slot, causing her to quickly answer her final responses. “If I was close to finishing within the 45 minutes, I rushed my concluding responses fearing that I may have a problem uploading which may require more time,” said Zaverchand. 

AP exams went smoother than expected for sophomore Hannah Myers. According to Myers, logging into the exam was easy and allowed her to “hop out of bed to take the exam, and hop back in.” 

A change in preparation for Myers was the amount of time she spent studying. Myers believed she would have studied more had she not taken the exam at home. “I felt less inclined to study since I didn’t have anywhere to go or no reward if I did,” said Myers. 

With the ability to take the exam without the presence of other students, senior Kelly Torres felt as if the online AP exams allowed her to focus more on her work. Torres also felt like she was able to prepare for her exams more effectively. “Since we were allowed notes and study guides, instead of cramming a lot of information in, I focused on big ideas and printed out small details,” said Torres.

Although Torres felt focused and confident with her at-home exam experience, she did find herself stressing about the possibility of having a tech issue during her exam. “The possibility of the wifi cutting out, computer dying, or college board crashing was a really bad feeling,” said Torres. 

While most students did feel skeptical about the 2020 AP exams, they did realize that many of the complications they expected to encounter did not interfere with their testing.

As a senior, Emily spends her second year on staff as both a copy editor and entertainment editor. Outside newspaper, Emily plays violin in the school orchestra and leads Dead Poets Society as president. When she's not at school, however, Emily enjoys writing poetry, repeatedly watching the same movies and, sometimes, succeeding in her goal of reading five books a week.

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