AP testing administration undergoes more changes under pandemic

College Board offers remote and in-person AP tests

Cal High will begin administering a mix of full-length AP tests remotely and in-person on Tuesday

This presents a big change from last year’s administration, where students could only take their AP exams remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This fully-remote format caused trouble and stress for many students.

“I personally felt as if last year’s AP test was a bit chaotic with organization,” senior Amanda Le said. “Because of the pandemic I appreciated having a 45-minute test over a three hour one.”

AP testing last year affected other students in different ways, most notably with technological issues.

“I had problems uploading some of my images for the test,” senior Anna Guan said. “At the same time, it was a bit confusing to grasp how they were able to test a whole year’s knowledge into such a tiny test.”

Many students appreciate the much-needed change to this year’s AP test format compared to last year’s.

“Although admittedly it was nice to take a shorter test last year, I think it’s cool how they are giving students the option to stay home and take the [full] test,” junior Mallory Reith said.

This year, the College Board has had more time to properly format and complete the tests that will be administered online.

“The College Board sent out surveys to AP teachers trying to gather information as to which tests may be able to be given digitally,” assistant principal Catie Hawkins wrote in an email. “I think that students, teachers, and families are happy to have a digital choice for most of the subjects.”

Whether students take the AP test in-person or online depends on which class they have.

“Exams that are identified as in-person will be administered to students in-person at their assigned testing site,” Hawkins wrote in an email addressed to the entire school on March 8. “Exams that are digital will be administered at-home.”

Sixteen tests that will be taken in an online format, including AP U.S History, AP Psychology, and AP Biology. Make-up testing will also be administered digitally from June 1-4, and again from June 7-11.

Tests that need to be taken in-person include AP Statistics, AP Chemistry, and all AP math subjects. AP foreign language exams and AP Music Theory also need to be taken in-person because of the specific formatting of the test.

Some subjects, such as AP Spanish, have experienced major changes over the past two years.

“Last year, the College Board removed the writing, reading, and listening requirements from the AP Spanish exam,” AP Spanish teacher Scott Tinetti wrote in an email.

Most AP tests require changes this year in order to accommodate the students’ needs, as remote school for most or all of the year has made learning more challenging for students.

“This year I’m told that the Spanish exam will contain all the traditional exam sections: speaking, reading, writing, and listening, and that it will be administered in person on our campus,” Tinetti wrote.

Either way, if students take the AP test online or in person, their safety is a priority during the pandemic.

“We’ve made decisions that prioritize the health and safety of educators and students while preserving opportunities for motivated students to earn college credit,” the College Board wrote on the AP Central page of their official website.

Cal plans to continue to have students wear masks on campus and enforce social distancing guidelines, which currently state that students must stay at least three feet apart in a classroom.

“To ensure student and staff safety, we are following Contra Costa Health Department guidelines for social-distancing and the guidelines given to districts by the College Board,” Hawkins wrote in a letter addressed to the community.