“They’re not canceled?”: AP testing from home

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Emma Bateman

On her desk at home, junior Emma Bateman completes her math homework. This is also how and where Bateman plans to take exams for AP Physics I and AP Government. “Honestly, I’m not happy about the testing [being] online because I focus better in a classroom or testing environment than my room,” Bateman said. “Also, I don’t like that it's going to be all FRQ based this year.”

Though the world is at a standstill, the long-awaited Advanced Placement (AP) exams are still on schedule for May 11-22. The tests will now be administered online so that they can be taken from home.

Each exam, regardless of the subject, will consist of a 45-minute test with free response questions (FRQs). While teachers are adjusting to eLearning, AP teachers have been additionally burdened with adapting or cutting content to fit AP’s new guidelines. 

“I understand that [the] College Board was in a difficult position,” AP Government teacher Jeff Chazen said. “But I am not a fan of the open book or open note test. Because of the open book aspect, they are no longer testing students on their knowledge of AP Government materials, which is the purpose of the test. They are now basically testing students on their ability to write FRQs.”

Because of the open book aspect, they are no longer testing students on their knowledge of AP Government materials, which is the purpose of the test. They are now basically testing students on their ability to write FRQs,”

— AP Government teacher Jeff Chazen

Responses range from petitioning for later testing dates to viewing the convenience of shorter tests as a “gift”

“I want [my students] to know that they are ready and that they will do amazing,” AP Language and Composition teacher Leslie Lindsey said. “The fact that there is only one essay will likely work in their favor, so they must give it all they’ve got. I am happy that there will be a test and that the students will still get the chance to earn their college credit.”

The traditional AP Language and Composition exam is three hours and 15 minutes. Two out of the three handwritten free response questions have been cut along with the multiple choice section.

“We will continue to work on the three types of essays unless they release the essay type that will be on the test. If they do that, we will focus directly on that type of essay,” Lindsey said. “I’ve come to appreciate that I really enjoy spending face-to-face time with my students. The students are what brings the curriculum to life, and I miss our talks and jokes and just being together to learn. I think eLearning has helped us realize that, while technology is a wonderful tool, it will never replace the need for human connection.” 

I think eLearning has helped us realize that, while technology is a wonderful tool, it will never replace the need for human connection,”

— AP Language and Composition teacher Leslie Lindsey

The AP Government exam has also removed the multiple choice portion and has gone from four FRQs to two FRQs, made adjustments to reduce time to write and is now open note. In the unexpectedness of the situation, AP is allowing free cancellations to students who wish to no longer take exams they have registered for. 

“I cannot check for understanding as easily as I could before,” Chazen said. “Without answering students’ questions, I do not have a good grasp as to whether students understand what I am teaching. That is the most frustrating part of eLearning. I miss the interaction between me and my students.”

Despite the difficulties of communicating solely through technology, many students are still taking the exams for the potential of college credit.

“Because there are a lot of factors with grades, it is easier to show colleges that I have learned the material by taking the standardized test,” junior Emma Bateman said. “I don’t like that I will have to take the exam at my house because I get distracted easily; I have two brothers, a bird, a cat and two dogs, so my house is never quiet.”