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Are AP Students Ready for Exams?

On February 4th, the College Board Advanced Placement Program disclosed that AP exams must be taken remotely whilst AP students around the country scramble to prepare.

Last year in 2020, the global pandemic posed a variety of challenges, and evidently, College Board was unprepared to host exams at home for three million students eager to earn college credit. Instead of the traditional three-hour in-person exam, a 45-minute open notes digital version was administered. However, this method had its flaws. Senior vice-president of the College Board Advanced Placement Program, Trevor Packer, explained, “If a student didn’t use an updated browser, or if they took a blurry photo, they’d need to retest,” consequently wasting the student’s time and effort. The old system was intolerant with students–the slightest glitch or disruption in connection could cause the whole test to be invalid.

College Board has made efforts to acclimate to the pandemic’s circumstances. Even so, distance learning prompted its own set of struggles, making it difficult for Silver Creek’s AP students to learn the full curriculum of their courses. With limited instructional time and ESUHSD’s restrictions on how much homework students can be assigned, how are AP students feeling? What challenges are they facing?

Cindy Truong, class of ‘22, canceled her AP biology exam, reasoning, “[I] canceled the bio one because I don’t feel prepared. There’s not enough time in the new class schedule that would be used for preparing and getting help online through Zoom isn’t as efficient as in real life.”

“[A] lack of actual useful materials in the class” makes it difficult for students to learn, said Christal Tran, a junior AP language and human geography student. She elaborates, “There’s more self-learning than learning during class.”

Christal Tran photographed on her 16th birthday.

This year, College Board plans to meet students in the middle–administering a full-length exam at their leisure and allowing them more leeway for technical errors out of their control. Despite this, “the College Board policy of not allowing students to go back and forth between multiple-choice questions” will make “any multiple-choice portion significantly more difficult than in person,” remarked Michael Luu, who is readying himself for the AP lang exam.

Michael Luu, class of ’22, pictured riding his bike in Davis, California.

In comparison to 2020, College Board has taken extra precautions to ensure that the test-taking process at home will be smooth-sailing and less rigid, as not all students have access to stable internet connections and workable devices. Even so, the protocols being taken to defend against cheating, such as disabling the feature to go back and forth between questions makes checking one’s answers significantly more challenging. On the other hand, many students will be more comfortable taking exams at home knowing that College Board is allowing more leeway for internet issues and outdated devices.
Silver Creek administrators encourage all students to take their AP exams, but refunds are still an option if students are unable to take the test. Payments can be submitted through https://forms.gle/cC4eEh8SEHoJigrF7 and cancellations through https://forms.gle/nNkrXnFS4vePR5R47.

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