Due to the coronavirus, the College Board has been forced to reimagine how Advanced Placement (AP) Exams are conducted for a second consecutive year. High schools across the globe have been faced with the option to take either digital or paper exams, some forms altered and others not. The Shelby County School district is no exception.
“Shelby County has gone with [exam] administration 2, which means half [of the exams] are going to be digital and half are going to be paper and pencil,” Leslie Fleming, counselor and AP coordinator, said. “The tests will be held at 3 p.m. and if any testers decide to test in-person, it will be at a Shelby County central location.”
Concerns have been raised about the safety of in-person testers. Schools in Shelby County have already administered tests during the pandemic, such as the ACT. What methods are being used to keep students safe?
“For AP testing, we’re going to use the gyms and smaller classrooms with desks six feet apart,” “We’re going to continue with the CDC best practices, we’re going to take temperatures at the door, we’re going to make it a safe environment,” Fleming said.
As far as the means of testing, students have a choice, but the exams themselves may look different. Last year, students tested at home digitally with heavily reduced versions of exams. This year, many exams will differ based on the type of test but will be administered in full. Testing has also been delayed by two weeks, placing exams at the end of May.
“My AP U.S. and European History classes will have one less LEQ [long essay question], but two extra SAQs [short answers questions] on the digital format selected by our district,” Mike Stephenson, AP U.S. and European History teacher, said. “I think that the digital exams may be somewhat easier for my students and I am happy that the exam day was backed up a bit.”
These changes are eliciting mixed reactions among students. Some are ecstatic, others confused or dismayed and many somewhere in between. Anastasia Karasev (11) is an AP student with mixed feelings about the exams. Karasev is taking three exams this year, including the altered AP U.S. History exam.
“It’s so much easier for me to type for the digital exam rather than write physically,” Karasev said. “My essays turn out better because I can interject anything anywhere, revise any part of the essay, and writing is much less time-consuming. But students aren’t used to [online testing] and coronavirus precautions will make things more difficult.”
While much is still uncertain during these times, at least students can rest assured that testing will go on. The College Board and Shelby County are each working hard to ensure student success during the testing season.
“I just think people are going to have to go into this relaxed,” Fleming said “You know the material, and the basic thing is you’re going to answer the questions and give them what they want, and you’re gonna be just fine.”