AP Tests in a COVID Year


Audrey Wallick, Staff Writer

A typical school year at Dover High School starts on August 21st and students come to school every morning at 7:45 A.M. and leave at 2:25 P.M.; however, the 2020-2021 school year for Dover and schools all over the nation has looked different for obvious reasons. With school being switched between online, full time, or hybrid, many classes have been behind schedule just by circumstance, even AP classes. The holdup with AP classes or any class that requires a passing test score to receive college credit is the worry of unprepared students when test day comes. The College Board should modify the AP tests this year because of the inconsistency of in-class time between schools throughout the nation, the obstacles that online learning has caused, and the modifications made to AP tests last year.

Many complications that happened this school year thus far have been out of anyone’s control. For example, no one could change the fact that Covid-19 spread all over the world or that businesses and schools closed to contain the virus. The College Board is in control of all the AP tests throughout the United States and during a typical pre-Covid-19 year this worked out because all schools had equal in-class time. This year, however, high schools have had to modify their schedules to keep the health and safety of students a top priority. With constant changes in schedules, high schools have had different experiences this year–some schools employed full online, some schools employed full in-person, and some schools employed a hybrid schedule of half online, half in-class. How can a student who learns lessons from bed be expected to learn just as much as and perform just as well as a student who is in a class environment at a desk everyday? There is a large disadvantage to students who have lost class time to online learning because even though online learning is still “learning,” a lot of a student’s time is lost through emailing questions instead of being able to raise a hand in class to ask a question or not having peers to engage in academic discourse. As of now, the College Board is giving all students the same AP test regardless of their learning experience. Unlike the uncontrollable virus, the College Board is in control to modify the AP tests to make up for students who had unfair disadvantages this school year.  The College board should modify student’s tests tailored to their learning experience to create equal advantage for all AP students. 

In addition to the disadvantage of variety in school schedules, the challenge of adjusting to online learning also poses a setback for many AP students. Last year when students were filling out their schedules for the 2020-2021 school year, they had no foresight into what this year would look like. Students who signed up for AP planned on a large workload and amped up curriculum but never imagined a fraction of the work and learning would happen through a laptop. No matter what, online learning never amounts to the level of learning that happens in the classroom. The College Board has neglected to recognize the change all students as well as teachers had to adjust to just for a typical day of school. A test that was once meant for students with a consistent in person schedule is still the test students who have had to adapt to distance learning must pass. In order for all AP students to have a fair chance of passing this year’s AP test, modifications must be made.

Lastly, and most notably, there should be modifications made to the AP test this school year because the test last year was modified. At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, most people had never heard of Covid-19. Students woke up bright and early for the first day of school on August 21st as opposed to this year’s starting date which was September 8th.  AP students last year had normal, in person five-days-a-week school until May 13th in the last nine weeks. Flash forward to this year:  eight weeks into the school year, Dover went to a hybrid schedule of only being in person two days of the week. After Christmas break, Dover classes were all online for two weeks. This a lot of lost in-class time with addition to routine quarantines of students who may have been exposed to the virus. Despite 2019-2020 AP students having more in-class time than AP students this year, the AP tests were modified last year. For example, the AP Language & Composition test was cut down from a sixty minute multiple choice section and three forty minute essays to only one essay. How is it fair that a quarter of an abnormal school year results in test modifications but an entire abnormal school year results in the typical AP test?

My goal is not to complain about the College Board not making modifications to the AP test, but rather to show the disparities AP students are facing this year and plead for a call to action on the part of the College Board to make the AP tests students face this year as fair as possible.