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Testing Remotely

Posted 05/20/2020 by Ben Abram

The new setup for an AP Test. photo by Ben Abram

Due to the impact of COVID-19, AP Testing is currently taking place at home in a form that has never been done before.

The year of 2020 has been met with significant setbacks, however, every person who has been affected has learned to adapt in a way that the world has never seen. Communities have come together to encourage people to stay at home and learn to partake in the new normal of social distancing. Attending school in person has become a radical idea, putting many at risk, so to overcome and continue the education, students and teachers across the world have been pursuing online learning in many forms. A big concern for these students and teachers during this pandemic was how College Board, the operators of AP (advanced placement) testing, would go about giving students the opportunity to receive college credit for their hard work. 

For the past 60 years, AP testing has existed to allow high school students to take college courses at an extremely low cost and earn credits to opt out of future classes that would cost thousands of dollars. The infamous AP test is something students work towards all year to prove that they have learned the same information that would be taught in a costly lecture hall. These tests have always been produced in a paper booklet and administered in person by a counselor or teacher to ensure there are no unfair advantages for some students. However, the classic method wasn’t an option this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. College Board used the resources they had to create an online testing platform for AP students to take a shortened exam and still receive credit for the course/s they are a part of. Most of the online AP Exams eliminated the multiple choice sections, and are only testing two free response questions with a shortened time allotted. The curriculum that would have been taught in March and April has also been removed from every exam, so that students are prepared to know the content given on test day. Students are emailed an E-Ticket two days prior to their testing date. This ticket has a link to take students to the exam page and wait for the questions to begin. 

Those who take the exam are given a few options for how the work is submitted. Students can either handwrite their work and submit up to five photographs (in .png, .jpg, or .jpeg format), upload a written response on a google doc or word document, or paste a response in the text box provided. In order to avoid potential technological issues, College Board has provided AP students with an exam demo to practice uploading their work. It is recommended that those who take the exam give themselves five minutes at the end of each question to begin submitting their work. In case students lose track of time, a notification appears with five minutes remaining to remind them to upload the responses. Barring technical difficulties, College Board did an excellent job providing students with a reasonable opportunity to still receive credit on the same one-five grading scale. 

With the commencement of the two week testing period beginning May 11th, some complications came up around the testing. Many students across the globe faced difficulties with exams on May 12th and 13th, which was followed by some backlash across social media. With these exams, many students who attempted to submit photographs of their work never got their pictures uploaded on time, or there was an issue pressing submit. Screens were going blank and photographs were disappearing after being uploaded. Every student who faced this issue now has to submit a request to take the makeup exam in the beginning of June. Considering the technological risks of an online exam, College Board will likely allow everyone who faced troubles to take the makeup exam. This new format overall is very impressive considering the time span College Board was given to change everything about their program. They are even considering implementing an online option in future years according to a survey that is given at the end of each exam. However, most students prefer the paper version, since fewer issues occur, considering when time runs out, all work is saved on paper. Although students can no longer be together in person, the exam is given simultaneously, so they are in this together.