Students struggle with the 2020 online AP exams

Gaby Lesmana, Staff Writer

   As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 AP exams looked a little different than previous years. Students were obligated to take the exams remotely online with their own devices, though there were many variables that could have affected the results because testers were not in a formal testing environment. Distractions at home, technical difficulties and “open-notes” were taken into account when the exams were designed.

   In addition to a certain time frame to take the test, students had to be online 30 minutes prior to their exam and at the exact same time as the rest of the world in order to ensure a secure exam experience. The College Board also permitted the use of notes; but the time frame was designed so that if students spent too long looking for answers, they would not be able to work through enough of the questions to receive a passing score.

   Sophomore Allison Hwang, who took the AP Chemistry exam this year, gave The Paw Print her thoughts on her experience.

   “I prefer taking the exams online because it’s more simplified and only takes less than an hour. I honestly think it will help my grade more because there’s no multiple choice section and all I need to do is explain whether my answer is wrong or right,” Hwang explained.

   Even though there was less time to complete the exam, the online version also had fewer questions than the traditional test.

   Although the College Board provided review videos for every subject as well as exam demos for students to practice, many students still experienced technical difficulties taking their exam. This included issues uploading answers, WiFi connection problems and College Board website crashes.

   Hwang, who has since requested a makeup exam in early June, was one of many who experienced these issues. 

   “My computer is old so it turns on and off frequently. During the exam, my computer had shut down, and I wasted five minutes to submit my work.” This meant that she could not attach her answers in time for submission. “I don’t want to buy a computer just to take the AP Exam,” she added.

   Students were only given five minutes to upload their answers. Even though the system warned students to submit immediately at the five minute mark, it was tempting to continue working while the problem was still on the screen. The College Board allowed students to email their answers immediately after their exam, but that did not apply for those who had difficulties in the first week of testing.

   The 2020 AP Exams were clearly a first time for everyone, and it’s understandable that AP students and the College Board struggled this year. Overall, there were many factors to consider, and distance learning will continue to be a learning experience for all.