Students prepare for AP exams amidst pandemic


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The College Board released their updated schedule on April 3rd. All exams that were once multiple hours long appear to be much shorter in a more condensed schedule than before.

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the United States, the typical daily operations of hundreds of millions have been brought to a startling halt. For students, however, there still exists a very definite, worrisome factor – AP exams. Despite the indefinite closing of Shelby County Schools and the district mandate that assignments cannot be mandatory, AP students in Shelby County and around the nation still find themselves anticipating the AP tests and the road of preparation that loom ahead.

As teachers can no longer require students to complete assignments, AP students can either complete optional assignments provided by their instructors or study individually and attempt to remain focused in the midst of home distractions.

“For AP World [History], I’ve gone through the curriculum just so I have an understanding of what’s going to be on the exam,” Elina Salian (10) said.

Teachers are still encouraged to reach out to students and provide them with extra assignments to maintain sharp skills in their respective courses, and many teachers use online platforms to connect with students, such as Zoom Calls, Microsoft TEAMs and AP Classroom.

“Zoom has been the most popular right now. Only my English [AP English Language] teacher has used it, and … for the most part they have been successful and beneficial for us to prepare for the AP exam,” Kush Bhatia (11) said.

On April 3, the College Board officially announced that AP exams would still be given at the end of the semester; however, many factors will distinguish them from previous AP exams, and in some eyes, invalidate them. The College Board concluded that all AP exams will be approximately 45-55 minutes each, with most exams having one or two free-response questions based on a portion of the course material.

Most significantly, though, was the conclusion for AP exams to be open notes and open book, an action atypical based on the College Board’s reputation of strict and secure testing measures.

“The score I get is important to me, so I’m still going to study the same amount I would’ve if it was a longer test with more questions,” Salian said.

Students also remain unsure of the validity of these tests and their use in the college admissions process .

“I do believe that they will be undervalued and I was honestly shocked that colleges were still taking these scores as credit, as a 45-minute open note test is not testing students in the most efficient manner,” Bhatia said.