Online AP Exams Spark Criticism


Jasmine Van Leeuwen, Staff Writer

Students around the world were the first to experience the new condensed version of AP Exams this year. The exams had been changed from a combined multiple choice portion and free-response portion lasting around three hours to a single free-response portion lasting only 45 minutes.

College Board is one of the few educational organizations in the world that has gone through with exams despite the pandemic, and students say that there have been technical difficulties from logging in to the system to submitting the response. The College Board says that students who encounter technical difficulties can submit a request for a make up, and if it is approved they can retest in June.

Stamford High School students also experienced these new AP exams, and some were quite critical of them. 

While only a small fraction of students at Stamford High had issues on test day, a quick look at the College Board’s Twitter account reveals many comments from students revealing that they were unable to submit their exam or unable to log in to their exam. The content of the exam was also limited. 

Gabby Argenio, a Stamford High School junior who took AP Calculus AB and AP Physics 1, said she thought the exam did not test her on everything she learned this year and a lot of topics were left out. 

Stamford High School junior Karina Grabine, who took AP U.S. History, believes that some students may have had an unfair advantage because there was only one question. Grabine said, “Everyone was randomly assigned a question on a different topic, which gave certain people an unfair advantage.”

Stamford High School junior Diana Vukel, who took AP Calculus AB, said, “We spent an entire year learning material only to be given two questions to answer, which I feel cannot properly assess one’s knowledge of the content.”

Results were mixed on how prepared students felt. Grabine felt well prepared and put lots of effort into studying. However, Stamford High School juniors Shaina Bond and Annalise Fabricatore, both taking AP Physics 1, said they did not feel adequately prepared for the exams. Fabricatore said, “I studied for about a month before my exam date. I did not feel very prepared for this test.” Bond said, “The new exam format was unfamiliar to all, and I did not know how or what to study.”

However, to students who are taking the exams this week, don’t stress; these students also gave pointers on how to prepare. Grabine recommends that students “read the College Board’s instructions carefully before the exam to make sure everything goes smoothly.” Bond recommends that students practice the demo exam to make sure the files are correct.

Fabricatore and Bond both noted that time goes quickly, and you should leave yourself 3-5 minutes to submit the exam to avoid any potential difficulties. Vukel recommended that students use the last five minutes to upload instead of waiting until the last second, because “it does take a while (to upload) and can be tricky. If you don’t upload in time, it’ll automatically switch pages and you’ll be unable to upload your answers at all.”