The Unique 2020 AP Testing Scenario

Students Thoughts On How It All Went Down

Julian Cupeles
Staff Writer
November 27, 2020 9:17 PM
College Board is the corporation that facilitates the Advancement Placement program (jtk13/Wikimedia Commons)
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Note: This story was originally produced over a month ago. Information, dates, predictions, and other details may be outdated.

Advanced Placement (AP) testing took quite a different turn from previous years this last spring. Typically, in years past, there was a 2-3 hour test with varying parts, depending on the test. Some tests would have a multiple-choice portion (MCQ) followed by free response questions (FRQ), and others just had a multiple-choice portion.

Students are able to focus more in a comfortable location such as their own kitchen table, like the girl shown in this picture (Frank Romero/Unsplash)

Last school year's tests were handled differently. Due to COVID-19, students were forced to take their tests at home, which came with its limitations. Students were emailed an e-ticket with the information they needed to log in, and had to arrive on the website prior to the exam starting. For the exams with both a multiple choice and free response portions, it was shortened to just one or two free response questions. Students had three options to turn in their exam: typing in a document and pasting it in the response, linking the document they wrote into the response box, or handwriting and scanning the picture in the response box. Topics that were not able to be taught due to the pandemic were not covered on the test.

Due to the changes, students were forced to prepare for the exam differently than they would have in previous years. In my personal experience with this exam, compared to the previous ones, I had an easier experience. Having only one response made it easier to study and put myself in the best position to pass the exam. Being able to focus on one part of the exam also helped take a lot of stress and pressure off myself. In past exams, I felt all the different questions were a large load, putting a lot of pressure on me to both answer correctly and quickly. Since it was only one response, it gave me more confidence that I would pass.

Other students who took the exam had similar feelings to mine. When asked how he felt about the exam last year compared to previous years, current SCHS student Angello Pena, who took the U.S. History exam, stated, "I guess in a way it was easier this year." Pena later stated his reasoning: "You didn’t have to wake up early and you’re at home."

It begs the question: How big is testing environment to students? Being in a comfortable environment allows students to think clearly and feel like they are at their best. Pena goes on to say "[At home] I got my books, notes, and phone to review really quick before I take the test." Being able to have a quick review before an exam can refresh a year's worth of learning and can give students more ideas and facts when writing.

Overall, I feel as if College Board did a great job adjusting to the predicament they were put in. With the pandemic going on they allowed students to take the exam and still be able to receive the college credit, all while keeping students comfortable and safe during testing.

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