Online AP exams are still a necessity

Sophia Hosford and Annette Leber

With the pandemic in full swing, the idea of in-person Advanced Placement exams seems inconceivable. As cases continue to skyrocket globally, rooms of high schoolers in close quarters is certainly not ideal. 

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will likely not be available to students for months, given the priority given to essential workers and those with pre-existing conditions. Taking into account the surge of cases and the vaccination disaster, we are pleased that College Board is allowing an online option for the first and third administration cycles of the exam. 

Although the 2020 AP exams were chaotic due to College Board’s lack of preparation, the billion dollar organization has had months since the 2020 exams to troubleshoot the submission and technological issues that students experienced. 

Last week, College Board announced that there will be three testing cycles, from early May to early June. In the first cycle, the exams will be administered online and will be full-length. For the second cycle, the exam will be half in person and half at home due to coronavirus precautions. The final cycle will occur at the beginning of June and will also be a combination of in school and at home testing. Most subjects will have traditional full-length digital exams that will be administered at home or at school. 

One concern about taking the AP tests online are the issues that students experienced when taking the exams last year. During the 2020 exams, many students experienced problems like having access to internet and computers, quiet spaces, and accommodations for disabilities, not to mention the technology issues during the exams, especially when trying to submit them. While College Board says that less than one percent of students faced issues with submission, that was still thousands of students. The possibility of things going wrong during the exams is significantly higher at home, which also increases the stress put on the students taking them.

May is already usually a very busy time of year for students, and being at home where the environment is not as controlled and not always ideal is another component contributing to the stress. However, having the tests in person during the pandemic is also a point of anxiety with the risk of exposure being a significant concern.

 “I don’t think that in-person testing would be in good practice right now unless everyone got COVID tested beforehand or got the vaccine, so it’s really tricky,” Junior Katherine Bouma stated. Sylvie Alexander, another junior, expressed a similar sentiment, saying that she doesn’t believe they should be administered in person, even if there were safety precautions in place. “I personally don’t want to risk the health of my family, even if there was a high chance that I would be safe,” Alexander said. Administering the exams at home would make sure students feel safe when they are taking their exams, especially with the rising number of cases all over the world.  

The administration of online AP exams is safer for staff and students alike and we are glad that College Board has offered the option.