A Review of This Year’s AP Exams


Hannah Velette

If anyone ever would’ve told me that I would take all 4 of my AP exams this year while chilling at my kitchen counter in my pajamas, I probably would’ve laughed at such a crazy idea. Then again, I’m not entirely sure anyone could’ve predicted anything that went on so far this year, but here we are. Looking back, I want to take some time to reflect upon the good and bad parts of my online testing experience.

In College Board’s defense, no one could’ve ever predicted that this is how our school year would end, so I do give them credit for being able to come up with a solution to the issue of how testing would work. At the same time, I believe that while they were trying to alleviate stress for students, they ended up creating more confusion and problems for students planning on taking the AP tests in May. For one, all tests were taken online this year and were only 45 minutes long. This format was supposed to make things easier for students, but many students worried that a whole year’s worth of work was now being reduced to just 1 or 2 questions. Past tests had various sections like multiple choice, short answers, and long essays, so if you didn’t know a particular topic very well or struggled in one area you had the rest of the test to balance it out. Additionally, all of the tests were different and had different questions. This makes cheating difficult, which is a good thing. At the same time, it also makes it difficult to judge mastery of a year’s worth of work and knowledge if one person just happens to get a question on something that they know really well while someone else gets a different question that may be more difficult.

College Board also said that students could take it on any device with Internet access including laptops, tablets, or phones. Personally, I had a good experience taking all of my AP tests as I didn’t have any troubles with my WiFi or submitting. However, I’ve heard stories of students whose submit buttons didn’t work or who had issues with attaching pictures or files. Any students who did have issues with their tests could apply for a retake exam within 48 hours after the exam, and starting the 2nd week of testing students could even email their responses immediately following the test if they had submission troubles. This email option is a great backup for students who worked hard on the exam and were unable to submit, but it would’ve been even better if it was available from the beginning because students who had submission troubles the first week could not email their responses in and instead had to take the make up exams.

Overall, the AP exam situation was the best that it could’ve been given the situation we were in, but this new testing format definitely did cause many new problems and questions that no one really anticipated or knew how to answer. This isn’t the end of online testing though: College Board may put out an online version of the SAT and ACT if in-person testing can’t take place in the fall. Hopefully they work out all of the issues by then to provide a more smooth testing experience, but I guess only time will tell what will happen in the next few months.