This year, College Board introduced a new format that allowed students to take Advanced Placement (AP) exams online due to school closures. The decision faced heavy backlash from students and teachers. Rather than the typical paper exam, the online tests were 45-minute written responses. No multiple choice was administered in an attempt to eliminate the ease of cheating.
Cheating seemed to be the largest concern for the online testing format. Despite the exams being “open-note,” College Board implemented many methods to catch cheaters, some of which were confidential. However, the biggest issue for students proved to be submitting the exam. Many students had submission buttons that did not function properly or were unable to submit within the 5-minute window. Students who did not experience this issue still felt nervous that it would happen to them.
Junior Emily Rager said, “It was really stressful. I studied with a friend a lot, but when the test came I felt pretty anxious. Overall, I thought the test went better than I expected because thankfully I didn’t have any problems with my computer or submitting.”
Some students were not as lucky and experienced many challenges trying to submit and take their exams. Many students had to apply for a test re-take.
Taking into account that not all students would have access to the internet on exam day, College Board set up hotspots and helped connect students with devices.
According to the College Board website, “[College Board] established a dedicated 100-person customer service team and have supported more than 28,000 students, parents, and educators by: Connecting them to local efforts already in place through their school district, loaning a device or hotspot, providing a Chromebook donated by Amazon, or helping them contact internet service providers in their area providing Wi-Fi to students in need of connectivity. The College Board directly distributed approximately 7,500 devices.”
Even with all of College Board’s efforts many students still experienced problems with the exams. Some of those problems included connectivity problems and answers not submitting. College Board has released that makeup exams for this year will be taken from June 1-5.
Another solution found by College Board was to allow students who were unable to submit their exams due to the time limit, a faulty submission button, or connectivity issues to send their responses in an email instead. However, this solution was not available until the second week of exams.
Junior Anwesha Gorantla said, “It’s not fair that some people spent hours studying on their own, only to have to retake the exam, and I think that College Board should have let the test takers from week one email in their responses like they allowed week two test-takers to do.”
Students reflecting on the exam also found that the tests were easier. As a result, some students did not study the typical amount.
“I definitely slacked off more than I normally would have, but I was lucky that the exams that I took were, in my opinion, significantly easier when compared to past exams, and previous practice,” said Gorantla.
AP exam season came to a crash when College Board, the organization that administered the online tests, was sued for over $500 million. Some of the charges include breach of contract, gross negligence, and unjust enrichment. College Board reported that students begged to take the exam, but parents and organizations such as the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) claim test-takers were taken advantage of.
Despite the many issues involved with the recent AP exam season, students at Mt. Hebron persevered through the new virtual testing format. AP exam scores will be released in Maryland on Thursday, July 16 at 8 a.m.