Junior Jonathan Merlin watches Dr. Carter’s online lecture for his AP US History class. Photo Bennett Boushka

Last year when the COVID-19 outbreak sent students home for the semester in March, teachers and students alike were left scrambling to prepare for the AP exams. Pace students were especially concerned about what might happen, considering the AP exams give them a chance to place out of college level courses. When AP students take their subject tests, the College Board scores them on a scale from 1-5. It is generally thought that a 3 earns you college credit, but it depends on the course and the college whether that score earns credit.

In response to the pandemic last year, the College Board adjusted smoothly, creating short online exams that allowed students a chance to place out of courses. The format depended on the course, but most exams consisted of free response questions, as these types of exams deterred cheating when compared to an objective test like multiple choice. Some students thought that this was a good way to test. “I feel like they did a good job adjusting and it was the best way to test us given the circumstances,” said junior Leah Favero. Not all students agreed, however. “I do not think the exams were fair, because they weren’t over as much material so they did not test what we fully knew,” said senior Audrey Holton.

The general consensus of the teachers was that the shortened format actually made it easier for them to prepare students for the exams, as they could focus all their effort on one specific format. “It was nice, actually, to be able to focus so closely on one of the four tasks, although we did have a challenge in adjusting to a revised rubric,” said AP US History teacher Christine Carter. “My students performed well because they knew the content and had practiced a number of DBQs by the time of the exam.” 

As the end of the school year approaches, it comes time again for students in AP courses to focus on nailing the AP exam format in order to give themselves the best chance to earn a high score. The College Board recently sent out an update saying that they are still planning on proceeding as normal with full length exams. “Even though they are still having full length exams, as I learned last year we have to be ready for anything,” said Holton.

The College Board also announced how they plan to adjust for special circumstances in order to accommodate students who have had to miss school due to the outbreak. The first accommodation is offering two test dates, one in the second half of May and one in the first half of June. If a school is shut down due to coronavirus-related risks, the College Board is also going to offer full length online exams with dates of these tests to be announced in early February.

What is different about this year in my teaching is the use of Zoom and Zoom recordings,” said Dr. Carter. She has utilized these new tools to enhance her students’ learning experience, making it more convenient for both her and her students. Be sure to check the College Board website for more information and future updates.

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