Features Magazine Volume 70, Issue 7

AP Testing: Criticism and Confusion

Written by Yasmeen Anwar

Graphic By Veronica Genkin

Last year, the College Board decided that the pandemic in March impacted how much the students learned in the last few months prior to the scheduled AP tests. They excluded anything learned after March and decided to trim down the time from the standard three hours to only 45 minutes, letting students use their notes on the exam as well. Students around the world in the same AP class took that subject’s test simultaneously, regardless of where they were in the world; depending on the subject, the test would begin at 9 AM, 11 AM or 1 PM PST. AP students in India had to begin their tests at 9:30 PM, 11:30 PM or 1:30 AM in their local time, while students in China had to start their tests at 12 AM, 2 AM or 4 AM in their local time. These decisions caused the College Board to receive heavy criticism.

Teachers, parents, and students alike thought the times should be flexible, but the College Board didn’t allow this to happen. The College Board did their best to ensure that anyone who paid would be able to take the test regardless of the time. 

This year, when most students in the US have been forced to adapt to online learning, the College Board made a decision that led to them being caught in another controversy. They decided that the test will return to the original time of three hours, that students won’t be able to use their notes and that it will include everything that they learned directly from home. They also discontinued the practice of requiring that every student in each AP subject would have to take the test simultaneously across the world. Some tests will be taken in person, while others will be taken at home, depending on the subject. An administrator at Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois, said that the College Board was “tone-deaf” to the issues that students have been facing during the pandemic.

Raishma Anwar, a senior at Las Lomas who’s taking five different AP tests, said, “I just feel like the difficulty doesn’t matter as much as the length, like I know it’s going to be really hard for me to take a three-hour test at home.” Anwar also mentioned that there are so many distractions at home that aren’t found at school, like dealing with her siblings. 

Emmi Cayer, a junior at Las Lomas, also agreed with many of Anwar’s feelings about AP testing, preferring that the tests were shorter. She said, “I do not agree with the College Board’s decision to make the tests harder this year. It isn’t fair to students who are continuing distance learning.”

The College Board doesn’t plan on changing their decisions about AP testing, and those who plan to take the tests will be left to their own devices.