Update on the AP Exams


Alice Xie, Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more than just school online: many standardized tests have also been shifted to accommodate the online format. The AP exams are perhaps some of the most important high school tests, so in an effort to try and normalize testing, the College Board has made a few announcements regarding AP test options.


After the pandemic hit, it was assumed that the 2021 AP exams would take place online, much like the tests of the 2019-2020 school year. Students had mixed opinions regarding online testing, and both educators and students alike have expressed their opinions on the matter of online testing.


“I would prefer to test in person, and I would be okay with it being in school,” Sophia Mendoza, a freshman at West Ranch, told the Paw Print. She continued by saying that although she would prefer to test in school, “the online format will probably be less challenging considering the only thing changing is the environment.”


However, others do not share the same opinions. Nicole Augusta, an upperclassmen at West Ranch explained her opinions on online testing. 


“This year, my ideal AP Exam would be online,” she said. “Learning online has been hard on teachers in terms of keeping up with the fast-paced College Board curriculum, and I feel that an online test like last year’s would be the most effective way to assess students’ knowledge.”


However, the College Board made a few changes to the available testing options for the upcoming exams in order “to provide schools with testing options to meet their unique needs and circumstances,” according to the College Board website.


Students can officially take the AP exams on campus, in a formal setting, or online. Students will be allowed to choose between an online or in school test, and can even blend both formats if their schedules permit.


This ability to choose between a virtual or in-person test has been very helpful to students, including Augusta, who commented, “The thought of taking the test in person makes me nervous not only because of the length and format, but because of the COVID risk. I think holding the exam in person would be a hardship to those students who simply don’t feel comfortable.”


Mr. Crawford, the principal of West Ranch, discussed the matter of technology and COVID safety with The Paw Print. “We’re going to have a lot of safety protocols and different things for those students that want to come and plan on testing on campus. We’re working on all those protocols to have plenty of social distancing, hand sanitizing, and all those things for the tests,” he said. 


Another key factor that might be taken into consideration when students decide between testing formats is their access to technology. Mr. Crawford explained that if students wish to test online, “you have to be willing to download a software. It makes your computer a secure browser, and you have to agree to put it on at the beginning of testing. The thing is though, it will not work on a Chromebook.” Because there are restrictions to the types of computers students may use for online testing, West Ranch will be open for students to take the test using paper and pencil, or students can take the online version on campus. He added, “If you’re taking an online exam, you can either do it from home, or if you don’t have a device to use it on, you can come onto our campus, and use our Chromebooks because they’re under the school system.”


Students at West Ranch will be taking all of their exams in the month of May, from the 18th through the 28th, either online or in-person on campus.


“It allows students and teachers a couple extra weeks, because obviously distance learning has worked better for some than others, but we do know you have less instructional time, so it’ll allow a couple more weeks of review and getting ready for it because window two is later in May,” Mr. Crawford told The Paw Print.


The test itself will be the same whether you choose to take it online or in person. Last year’s tests were simplified versions, but this year, the test will be just like it normally is. And although students cannot decide the test dates, they are able to make all decisions about which exams they choose to take.


When asked to give advice to students about testing, Mr. Crawford said, “We get so fixated on passing the exams. But I can tell you that the experience you gain from that AP class, from the rigor of the class, from the things that you discuss, and kind of the content you go over, helps you tremendously even if you don’t get a four or a five on the exam. Just do as well as you can, do the best that you can on it, work with your teachers for assistance, help each other online with studying, get that good night’s sleep before, and go into it refreshed and just do the best you can.”


However you decide to take it, the AP exams are still set to happen beginning in May. Remember, because of the special circumstances, if you don’t feel ready or don’t wish to participate in any given test, the College Board will give full refunds up until April 30. Testing schedules can be found on the College Board website. Happy testing!