One month to go: Another round of AP exams during the pandemic

Senior+Jordan+Mimms+uses+AP+Classroom%2C+a+resource+provided+by+the+College+Board+organization%2C+to+study+for+her+upcoming+AP+Physics+1+exam.

Jordan Mimms

Senior Jordan Mimms uses AP Classroom, a resource provided by the College Board organization, to study for her upcoming AP Physics 1 exam.

Ramya Subramaniam, Student Life Editor

With Advanced Placement (AP) exams coming in less than a month, students are split on how they feel over this year’s testing formats. 

Earlier this school year, College Board — the company that runs AP exams — announced they would be offering multiple full-length formats of exams this year due to the pandemic. With three administrations, students can take their three hour or longer exam either in-person or at home to gain college credit. PV high school announced their plan to conduct all exams in-person this year.

Last year, all students had to take 45 minute exams at home. College Board tried to aid students during the unexpected transitions to online learning, but many were disappointed by the whole process. College Board was left with a lawsuit alleging they had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Senior Madeline Budan was a student who was unhappy after last year’s exams. “I did not have a good experience with last year’s exams. The pressure of my entire score being based off of one or two questions really got to me,” she reflected. “My tests also got interrupted by others in my household which didn’t help with my focus.”

With her experience from last year, Budan is excited to get back to the old format of the exam. “I am happy with going back to the old exams because last year with the shortened tests we had very little room for error and the online testing program was very poorly designed,” Budan commented. For students like Budan, this year’s exam format comes as good news. 

While many students were unhappy with last year’s format, some question whether full exams are the way to go this year due to the ever-changing conditions resulting from COVID-19. 

The high school itself had three different learning types. As a consequence of having to adapt the curriculum, AP teachers have been crunched for time. Students are struggling to stay on top of  everything as they nervously await their exams.

Senior Ani Pradeep has taken AP exams in both the normal and digital format. “I liked the original version better [normal format] because it tested me over all of the concepts and was pretty consistent with the practice tests. While the questions were clearly different, the overall structure was the same and my classes had prepared me for it,” he commented.

Pradeep had taken the normal format of the exam during his sophomore year, before COVID-19. He had normally scheduled classes with a full year of learning. While the end of last school year was interrupted, AP courses were close to finishing all the materials necessary for the exam. This year was completely different with learning being conducted both in the classroom and at home.

“I am not happy that we are moving back to the old way because this year has been so volatile. It wouldn’t be fair to impose a full AP exam since we have been hybrid for the first half of the year,” Pradeep said. “Most of our AP classes were falling behind in the schedule leading us to skip or rush through important units. We could not learn the material properly.”

Budan on the other hand believes she is well-equipped with knowledge to take the exams this year. “I feel better prepared for this year’s tests in regards to the content,” she said.

Though the digital and in-person exams have their ups and downs, there are certain perks of each format for specific classes. 

AP Literature teacher Robyn Samuelson is having her students take the digital exam version this year. “All year we have been practicing our essays by typing them. The digital format of the exam enables students to type their responses which the vast majority of AP Literature and Composition students prefer,” she commented. 

“The exam administered at school has students hand write their essays; collectively we believe hand writing essays is a hindrance. Finally, the digital exam is thirteen days later allowing for additional instruction time,” Samuelson continued.

Students across the world and even within PV high school have had different experiences while learning amidst a pandemic. Although each student’s situation has varied throughout the year, all of them have done their best to adapt to every new style of learning. 

Only time will tell whether College Board’s decision to keep normal-length exams will benefit the majority of students.