COVID-19 Results in Abbreviated AP Exams

Advanced Placement exams are a valuable opportunity to earn college credit while in high school. Although IMSA does not offer AP courses, many students sign up for classes that cover content comparable to an AP course, self-study any missing material, and take the exams at IMSA in May.

But due to the recommended social distancing measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the College Board announced on March 20 that in-person Advanced Placement testing will not take place this year.

Instead, students will be able to take AP exams online, from the comfort of their own home. This year, the exams — which range from 2 to 3.25 hours in length, not including breaks — will be abbreviated to 45 minutes and contain only free-response questions. For some exams, like AP English or AP History, the free-response format will not be too different from a typical full-length exam. For others, such as the AP Calculus exams, it’s less clear how the test content will be adjusted to the new format.

The College Board has stated that anti-cheating measures are in the works. They intend to use digital security tools and plagiarism detection software to ensure exam integrity. However, the College Board will also allow test-takers to photograph handwritten work, so it’s unclear how anti-plagiarism measures will work for tests offline. And since AP exams scores are curved each year, cheating negatively impacts other students’ scores.

Since some schools have been shut down due to COVID-19 and lack the technological resources to host classes online, the College Board is also cutting the content that will appear on the new 45-minute exams by as much as 40%.

Lastly, students will have the option of taking the new, abbreviated AP exams sooner or later, depending on their preference; each subject test will be offered on two different testing dates.

For IMSA students who are already accustomed to self-studying for AP exams, this won’t be too drastic a change. For those who are not, IMSA is still hosting online classes, which could help students in courses that correspond to an AP exam.

The College Board intends to release AP exam dates and more details about the free-response questions for each subject test by April 3.

About the Author

Grace Yue
Grace Yue is a senior from Des Plaines. She's the Opinions section editor for the second year running, a resident of 03A-wing for the third year running, and an honorary resident of 06 for the third year running. Outside of Acronym, she participates in a research project at Fermilab, serves as 03 Head Tutor, and writes for the Korea Daily Chicago's Student Reporters Club.

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