AP Test Flops

Kara George, Santa Fe Staff Writer

Many Advanced Placement (AP) students registered for the 2020 AP exams in November not anticipating COVID-19. Registration takes place after students have been in the course for 9 weeks and the exam isn’t until May. Yet, when taking the exam many students found many issues with the online exam and teachers didn’t learn of the extent of the issues until they reviver their pass percentage for their AP exam. The College Board flopped with these AP exams and they should only be in-person after this failed online attempt.

Before taking an AP exam, a student must be enrolled in an AP class which ranges from science class to extracurriculars such as art.  The AP exams at the end of an AP class allow students to receive college credit for the course. They are graded on a five-point scoring scale, a one being the worst and a five being the best. For most of these exams, a qualifying grade is a three; however, depending on the college it could be higher, rarely lower. AP classes follow a unique curriculum as opposed to the normal standard for on-level classes. The College Board performs an audit on instructors’ syllabi to ensure they are meeting college-level standards.

The 2020 AP exam underwent a massive overhaul due to the introduction of COVID-19 and the closing of schools around the country. These changes were not without problems. Some of these issues included having the browser shut down, not being able to log in, and having essays not saved. In some cases, this led to students having to retake their entire AP exam. Some students who experienced issues called the College Board only to be on hold for unreasonable amounts of time and receive an unclear response on what to do next. 

When I saw my passing percent I saw I had an increase. I feel like it came down to who took the test and whether they had the self-discipline to study from the material that was on Canvas,” said AP government and politics teacher K.C. Williams.

After the exams were finally finalized and scores were released, AP teachers saw the extent of the problems. Many Santa Fe AP teachers saw a small but notable change in their pass rate.

The AP Coordinator for Santa Fe Sherryl Mcgreevy said, “The exam being online most definitely had an effect on the passing rate so many students had trouble submitting answers and for students who are not as strong writers the test having only two multiple-choice questions affected them greatly.”

This year, after many issues, student outrage, and teachers dropping the pass rate, the College Board has decided to make the exam in-person. The AP exam last year had fewer students sign up for the test compared to this year however there are fewer exams sign up for this year. The 2020 exam had 619 students sign up for their AP exams with a total of 1139 exams being taken. However, the 2021 exam has more student signups with 741 students signed up for exams but only 1067 exams being taken. That is a 6.3% drop. Students do not want to risk having to retake a multitude of tests even though the test is in person. It appears that the problems that happened in the 2020 exam have scared some students to not take as many exams. 

In conclusion, after last year’s flop of an AP exam, AP tests should only be in-person, following CDC guidelines, and virtual students should have the same curriculum as hybrid students to keep them from falling behind.