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With adjusted testing format, AP students, teachers adjust approaches

With the closure of schools across the country, standardized tests are being adjusted, postponed or outright canceled. Almost all of this year’s AP exams have been cut down to a 45 minute test featuring a few free response questions. 

Students who have spent all year studying in their AP classes, as well as teachers who have been preparing them, have seen this change affect the preparation process. Math teacher Jason McGee has adjusted his AP calculus plans to focus more on the new shortened exam.

“There is slightly less material being covered on the AP test this year, so there have been some topics that we don’t have to worry about reviewing right now which should help the students’ stress and workload a little bit,” McGee said. “But (with) the rest I’ve been trying to explain everything like I normally would and get them exposed to what I know is best for them.”

McGee spent the first two weeks off from school making YouTube videos working through old AP exam problems for his students. He estimates that he spent some of those days working on his videos for 12 to 16 hours. 

“I made 77 so far, but will reach 101 to accomplish what I want to,” McGee said. “I think the videos should be pretty beneficial since (the students) are getting exposed to all the different kinds of problems that they normally would as well as receiving some thorough explanation that they can watch as many times as they want at their own pace.”

Similarly, the AP language and composition test has been condensed. The test was cut from a multiple choice section and three essay questions to only one essay. English teacher Jacob Adams says that despite this, he does not foresee exam scores being affected. 

“My observation in the past has been that there seems to be a strong correlation between how students perform on the rhetorical analysis essay (the one they will be required to write on the ‘modified’ exam) and their overall AP test score,” Adams said. “I assume that the College Board has made this observation as well, and this is why they chose to modify the test so that students only write this one type of essay. I would expect student performance to be fairly consistent with past years.”

Project-based classes, like AP seminar, have had their exams canceled entirely. Rather than having a specified test day, students will have a submission deadline for their portfolios, which will determine their scores. AP seminar teacher Rachele Raloff describes how the new test will be graded.

“With the project-based approach, students are now being assessed on the written parts of the projects, not the presentation aspects,” Raloff said. “Also, they typically had a two-hour exam, but they have no exam this year. Therefore, of the five elements that typically factored into the AP seminar grade (two papers, two presentations and the exam), only two of the elements count towards their AP grade (the two papers).” 

Senior Sydney Weiner is taking four AP exams this year, and hopes that the updated tests will make it easier to study and score well. 

“I am planning on preparing fairly the same as usual for the exams. It does limit the information I need to review though,” Weiner said. “I am hoping my exam scores will be better than before because there is less content. It does have the potential of making it worse with that in mind.”

With all of the changes that COVID-19 has made to students’ plans, Adams reminds them of those that are showing support. 

“While AP testing is often a source of anxiety for students under normal circumstances, our current situation could add even more stress for some,” Adams said. “However, I hope students know that their teachers and families are in this together with them. We are going to do everything in our power to make sure they are prepared for the challenges of AP exams this year.”

Alexandra Sulewski
Alexandra Sulewski is a sophomore entering her second year of journalism after taking beginning journalism as a freshman. She is involved in Student Council and Key Club. Alexandra enjoys writing opinion and news stories. She also enjoys listening to music, and plans to pursue a career in either journalism or politics.

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