The Successes and Failures of Online AP Exams

The weeks of May 11 and May 15, were stressful for many students. Those were the weeks of the social distanced online AP Exams. The exams, which are usually multiple hours in a strictly-proctored venue, were restructured. Each exam this year was 45 minutes with one to two free response questions. This was a big and difficult change and many students had varying opinions and experiences during the new AP exams.

Students had to take their exams at home and there is always a chance of interruptions. Junior Megan Gaudioso, who took the U.S. History exam, said, “I have 4 dogs, so a disruption from pets is inevitable. But, nobody was home, so there weren’t any interruptions from my family. The interruption from my dogs did not have much of an impact on me though. It only lasted a few seconds, then I got back on track.” Many students however were grateful that they were able to take their exams from the comfort of their own homes or beds.

EHHS students generally seemed to prefer this version of the exam. Junior John Carballo, who took the U.S. History and Psychology exams, said, “This exam was easier than the traditional exam and took much less time but it seems that it is less fair because people can use their notes which means it is not testing one’s knowledge on the topic but how well they can form an essay on the one to two topics given.”

The online AP Exams did have a few drawbacks. One of the main ones being technical issues that prevented many students from submitting their exams. These issues have led to a class action lawsuit being filed in Los Angeles against College Board. The plaintiffs include students who took the exam and couldn’t submit answers and FairTest, which is a nonprofit that opposes the misuses and flaws of standardized testing. The claims include breach of contract, gross negligence, misrepresentation, and violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The lawsuit demands over $500 million in monetary relief. It also asks that the students who couldn’t submit their answers don’t have to retake the exam.

The overall success of the online AP Exams is still up in the air. Despite many students preferring the shortened exam, many still did not. Students who prefer multiple choice questions were unhappy that the exam only had a written portion. Many students did not mind either way if there were written questions or multiple choice questions as long as colleges would accept their scores, which they will. The best way to see if the exams were a success is when the scores are released starting on July 15.