AP tests will be both virtual and in-person this year

Zelia Jacobson

Wilson students will take their Advanced Placement (AP) exams during the second Administration Cycle. While most of the tests will be virtual, world languages and a majority of the STEM exams will be taken in-person. 

AP exams will be held between May 18 and May 28. AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Physics C, AP Physics 1, AP Chemistry, AP Statistics, and all world languages are in-person on  May 21, May 24, or May 25. Those exams will be taken with a paper and a pencil. 

Virtual exams will be taken at home through the College Board’s app called “2021 Digital AP Exams”. Students are required to confirm basic information about themselves and their device three days before their test. In addition, it is mandatory that students download each of their exams into the app.

 To prevent cheating, the testing application will use a lock down browser, which will disable students from using the internet during the test. Students are also not permitted to skip and return to questions—once a question is completed, it can not be revisited. 

Unlike last year, the tests will be given at full length, although students have had around a quarter fewer instructional days to learn all the content. However, in some courses, like AP Physics 1, units have been cut because of the pandemic.

The 4×4 schedule  has had the greatest impact on how students and instructional staff are approaching AP exams. This is because both students and teachers are doubtful that students will have enough time to prepare for their exams. AP French teacher Lynn Palmer’s is concerned about whether,“[students are] going to be prepared come May 24th.”

 Many AP classes were scheduled for the first semester, leaving a five month gap between the end of the class and the test day. For AP classes during the second semester, although there isn’t a gap between class content and the test date, those students only have five months to cover all of the content. 

  AP teachers are adapting to prepare their students for the exams. Teachers who taught their students last semester are giving out review material, meanwhile those currently teaching AP classes are either reviewing content, or will be soon. 

For many teachers, tesst date being pushed back is a positive change. Because of the lack of time allotted to teach the content, some find the extra weeks relieving, as they may better prepare students. 

 AP English Language teacher Natalie Zuravleff believes students are benefitting from this extra time. For her class, “the course hasn’t slowed down really, but the depth that [the class is] able to go with each of the skills has gotten deeper.” This allows the students to reflect further on the topics that they learn, which will ultimately serve them when they are taking the final exam. 

However, Zuravleff believes that a digital test may cause additional problems for students. “The fact that [the test is] not only digital, but also self managed, is an additional burden that raises some anxiety for students.” She recalled that last year students who took their AP tests online had some uncertainties surrounding the process of taking and submission of the test. Students’ circumstances such as quality of wifi or the inability to find a quiet space may make it even harder to take a digital test.

For language tests, in-person exams will be an advantage for students. AP French teacher Lynn Palmer stated, “I knew that it was important, at least for languages, to organize an interior space properly for students to be able to take the test in a more traditional manner.” Palmer expressed that the tests would not be an accurate reflection of the students’ knowledge if they were online, nor would they be as certifiable as an in-person test. This is partially because language tests include listening, reading, speaking, and writing components.

 Junior Elizabeth Lindblom is currently preparing for an AP Spanish Language test. She took the class last semester, and is now, “more stressed [over the test] because a lot of the learning has been [put] on ourselves now.”

Although Palmer has been offering review that her students can use to study for the test, many are busy with full second semester schedules as well as additional responsibilities, so whether or not students are actually using the review remains unknown to her.

Whether in-person or not, AP classes have looked different all year, so it is inevitable that the tests will also be somewhat different than in years prior. It is up to students and teachers to ensure that everyone is confident and prepared for their tests, no matter the date or location.