The 2020 AP Pan(dem)ic

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Maroon Staff

A textbook, computer, and the College Board website - all necessities for this year’s AP exams.

Long AP tests are always sources of stress, but this year, with the ongoing pandemic, they have been moved online; surprisingly decreasing the stress levels for many students. The tests used to be three hours but were shortened to just forty-five minutes this year, cutting out almost half of the curriculum. Additionally, the tests were transferred to open-note, similar to many other non-AP tests.

The differently structured AP test received conflicting views as many students were not satisfied with the online version. “I was shocked to see they were not canceled like the SAT/ACT tests. It did not seem like a way to accurately replicate the AP exams,” commented Danielle Eforo ’21.

Several classes such as AT Computer Science and AT Art were even less stressful for Scarsdale High School students. AT Computer Science students were able to have a separate window open to do their work and then copy and paste their answers into the actual test. Much of the harder material from the end of the curriculum was cut out as well. AT Art students did not have a live AP exam as they submitted a portfolio of their work instead. Those students also benefited from the current situation, as the requirements for their portfolio were lessened and they had more time to complete their work.

There were aspects of the AP tests this year that were incredibly stressful, even with all of the modifications made. Students were required to log on thirty minutes earlier just to submit information within the first five minutes and frantically pull notes out for the next twenty-five minutes. For some students, the College Board was not able to receive their answers and they are forced to retake their tests in June. Not to mention the worries about unstable internet connection, glitches, and the classic preparation for online tests.

Fortunately, SHS teachers have been extremely cooperative in these circumstances.  “[Computer Science teacher] Mr. Vermes was so helpful and he really guided us through the whole process. We spent about two weeks just reviewing the AP: he gave us practice questions, we went over stuff on zoom, and he posted advice,” explained Anya Kornfeld ’21. 

With every student behind a screen and no way to strictly enforce the honor code, cheating has been a worry for teachers and administrators. The College Board supposedly gave each student a different question for the AP Computer Science exam, making it difficult to cheat; however, with the short amount of time designated for each test, students believed it was more worth it to spend the time problem solving than endlessly asking friends or furiously searching through Google. “You had 45 minutes for a three-part question which required quite a bit of thought, and you don’t want to spend your time trying to text someone,” said Kornfeld. 

As of right now, it is not clear how much these AP tests will count for, which can either be a source of hope for some or a source of pain for others. “I think there was more stress about having everything you wrote be almost perfect since you really don’t know how they’re going to grade it,” noted Joanna Wang ’21. Overall, the AP tests of 2020 will permanently be remembered as a bit confusing, but a unique experience nonetheless.