By Liam McGlynn, Staff Writer
// With an increasing number of cancellations in nearly all aspects of life, the Coronavirus (COVID – 19) claimed another victim as the College Board announced broad changes to the yearly Advanced Placement (AP) exams.
The College Board released information regarding the revision of the standard format of May’s AP exams on March 20 to accommodate its test-takers’ needs.
To avoid issues of public health, the organization condensed their several-hour written exams down to a 45-minute online test, allowing students to test safely at their homes.
Along with the new format, the College Board also plans to announce a schedule with two testing dates for each AP exam.
But with the recent confusion of the online test format, students and teachers alike question the validity of the test itself.
“Given that the test is only 45 minutes and that we may not be able to review well as a class, I cannot believe that the test results will be very meaningful — though, I would not go as far as saying that the test would be completely meaningless,” AP US History teacher Jed Morrow said.
Since the new AP exams can take place in non-secure environments, the possibility of academic dishonesty is a challenge the College Board will need to confront inevitably.
“I think most students won’t be academically honest,” junior Hunter Ridley said.
The College Board plans on using a number of tools to try and prevent cheating.
“The exam questions are designed and administered in ways that prevent cheating; we use a range of digital security tools and techniques, including plagiarism detection software, to protect the integrity of the exams,” the College Board said.
If students cheat successfully, however, the curved grading scale used to score AP exams on a scale of one to five punishes students who refrain from using notes on the test.
“When I first heard about the changes to my AP exams, I was very scared as to how cheating might affect the curve and how that may affect my overall grade,” sophomore Alan Liu said.
In response to questions regarding the security of the exams, the College Board assured that the organization already has experience in grading at-home work.
“Scoring at-home work for an AP Exam is not new to the AP Program. For years the AP Program has received and scored at-home student work as part of the exams for the AP Computer Science Principles and AP Capstone courses,” the College Board said.
And with the shortened test formats, some students question the legitimacy of their AP scores. However, the College Board maintains that universities encouraged the decision to alter the testing format.
“Colleges support this solution and are committed to ensuring that AP students receive the credit they have worked this year to earn. For decades, colleges have accepted a shortened AP Exam for college credit when groups of students have experienced emergencies,” the College Board said.
When deciding whether or not to cancel the exam, the College Board surveyed 18,000 AP students and found that 91 percent of students wished to have an opportunity to earn their college credit this spring.
Many Acalanes students ultimately agreed with the College Board’s decision to host exams before the end of the school year.
“I think that everyone should be able to take the AP test while the knowledge is still fresh in their brain,” Liu said.
Many Acalanes students feel relieved at the news of the changes to the AP exams.
“It takes a lot of the stress off the students that are already dealing with being under a shelter-in-place order,” Ridley said.