Were the New AP Exams Fair?


Gemma Torras, Senior Design Editor

    When everyone signed up for AP exams at the beginning of the year, no one expected a worldwide pandemic to bring everything to a screeching halt. After months of intensive studying and preparing, the circumstances made it seem like AP exams would be cancelled. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, schools across the nation have shut down and most states have adopted social distancing practices to prevent a further spread. However, the College Board has allowed students to take modified AP tests online at home in the midst of this pandemic, which sparks debate about if it is a fair judgement of what AP students have learned for almost an entire school year. Despite the current situation, the new AP exams do not seem like an adequate assessment of students’ skills.

    This year, AP exams were 45 minutes long with only one to two questions. Squeezing nearly eight months of college-level material into a less-than-60-minute exam seems more than unreasonable. Typically, the three to four hour exams test students on a wide range of material. The new format could not possibly cover most of the topics, leaving students feeling as if they wasted their time. Not to mention, the score of these 45-minute tests could determine whether or not a student could skip several levels of a college course. This simply is not fair.

    Additionally, the new exam format completely disregards the several types of assessments of the normal examinations. For example, world language exams have gotten rid of the writing and reading comprehension portion and now a student’s AP score solely depends on his or her oral skills. While I realize that the pandemic does not make the situation ideal, the College Board’s new format constricts the ways in which students can truly show what they learned this year.

    Rather than continuing on with exams, the College Board should have cancelled exams like other organizations. In early May, the International Baccalaureate (IB) cancelled all exams this year after determining that this was the “responsible and ethical” choice. Instead of recognizing the numerous problems that could come with online exams, the College Board continued on with a last-minute plan that has already experienced problems with technological malfunctions. Although the pandemic has changed many aspects of everyone’s daily lives, AP exams should not have been condensed the way they were.