AP Tests ft. Pandemic

As AP Tests are soon approaching, Esperanza has decided to take part in the full format in-person exams. Though this does come with its positives and negatives, I think that AP Tests, in general, this year are extremely unfair and too demanding of AP students.

Esperanza has released an email informing students, teachers and parents of the policies, regulation and safety precautions that will be taken during this year’s exams. The College Board has been pushing for in-person exams saying, “Schools that can safely administer paper and pencil or digital exams in school buildings or at other school-proctored locations should do so. Students are more likely to show up and complete the exam when they can test at school, where there are far fewer disruptions than when attempting to take a high-stakes test at-home.” I do believe that this is true, but what about the students that literally cannot take the in-person exam?

It was revealed that the online exams, which you must request for, will be a little different than the in-person. For one, there are still questions about the camera situation. The College Board had previously gotten a lot of backlash for saying cameras would need to be on if you took the tests at home. They have since removed the statement but said nothing further. This is a huge invasion of privacy and can cause problems for people who maybe don’t have a camera on their device or have legitimate privacy concerns with proctors being able to look into their homes.

There has also been major backlash on the online tests since students will be unable to move freely between questions. You cannot move back and forth on the test, once you submit a question, you cannot go back and change your answer. This is extremely unfair since students cannot then skip questions to budget their time or sometimes questions are answered later in the test, especially if the questions are all based on the same passage.

All of these policies put students who take the test at home at an extreme disadvantage for something they cannot control, like being high risk or living with someone who is at high risk of Covid. Even with vaccines rolling out, it is unfair for all these hard-working students to be penalized from the beginning.

The final issue people have with College Boards’ choices for this year’s testing is with the three different sessions they have created. There are three different time slots for all the tests, one in the beginning of May, the end of May and the beginning of June. Putting aside the fact that each test between administrations will need to be different to prevent cheating, possibly creating easier and harder tests, there is also the issue of time to study. Obviously, someone that gets a whole extra month to study is going to probably do better on the tests. Giving some students extra time to prepare with teachers and to study is completely unfair to the students who had to take the test a month earlier.

To encourage in-person testing, Esperanza is making sure that the facility will be as safe as possible for the students that are able and willing to take the test in person during the first administration. Face masks will be required, desks will be 6 feet apart with shields, there will be social distancing during check-in and out, the tables will be disinfected between tests and the bathrooms will be monitored for cleaning. The school is doing as much as possible to aid their students and ensure they feel safe, but it is still a risk for many and some are not able to take it.

Having normal AP Tests during a pandemic is already asking a lot of students. Many students are struggling to just keep their grades up, deal with Covid and their own mental health. To add the stress of full-length AP Tests on top of that is crazy. We are in the middle of a pandemic that has killed millions of people, and now we are also expected to take multiple, almost 4 hour long, tests. That seems highly unfair to me.

On top of that, situations all across the world are different. People in different countries still take AP Tests, and even in just the United States, school policies are different. Some schools are hybrid, some are all online and some can even go back to school full time. It is no doubt that those who are back in school have an advantage over those who are all online, no matter, we are all forced to take the same test. This just adds another factor that is making this year’s AP Tests seem a bit biased.

All the debate on AP Tests just again brings up the question, are they worth it and what do they even prove? It has been long known that standardized tests are biased not to mention the monopoly that is the College Board. Also, many people say that AP classes do not even help you “prepare” for college. So again, why take them? Colleges want to see students challenge themselves and take the hard classes, which makes sense. But why do we have to take a 4 hour test at the end of the year? Most colleges don’t even do this, so why are high school students forced to? Why can’t we just have standardized finals after each semester like a normal class rather than putting all the stress on a single day? Or even just look at the grade a person finishes with? It is unfair that a student can get an A in the class, not pass the AP exam, then get absolutely no credit for their whole year of hard work.

Many teachers and counselors have begun suggesting dual enrollment classes for students. They are less expensive, are a “true” college class, you only have to take a final and they still give you the college credit. The only thing is that some of the more prestigious colleges won’t recognize these classes the same way they do AP.

No matter your opinion on AP Tests and classes, I think we can all agree that having “normal” AP Tests this year is far from fair. If the College Board really cared about students, they would see we are all just desperately trying to make it through this year alive and with passing grades.