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College Board makes big changes to AP exams, high school students work to adjust

High school students and their parents need to know about major adjustments coming to AP testing.

AUSTIN, Texas — Advanced Placement (AP) exams are set to start in May with a couple of adjustments now that schools are closed. 

Now the AP test format is completely different, it's forcing students, like Sydney Ferris, to suddenly change how they're studying.


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"I've been doing all my school work and re-reading my textbooks and going back and reading my notes. Just going back and reading my notes, just trying to like absorb as much information I possibly can before the test," said Ferris.

"I think a lot of the reason behind that is issues of access and equity for students who don't have access to technology. If they do, it might only be for a short amount of time. I think that does make sense that they shortened it down and I think the other issue that they're thinking about is, it's an open-notes exam. They're thinking about the possibility of students gaining an unfair advantage," said Liz Pack, Collegewise counselor.

The AP classes are college-level courses taught in high school and the AP test is basically the final for the course. If a student passes, they get college credit.

"It's a little scary, like we don't know what to expect. Nobody does and there's no way to adequately prepare," said Ferris. 

Since it's open notes, that means students can have the full AP study guide in front of them during the test. Pack suggests to check out the College Board AP YouTube page to prepare. 

"They have tons of free resources for students to start practicing. I think taking your AP teacher up on any content that they give you to help you study or prepare. You could look at a local company. Collegewise is offering small group AP exam. This as well as other tutoring companies in the area," said Pack. 


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If students are experiencing barriers to the exam, like access to the internet, there's a form you can fill out and submit to the College Board, but it must be done by Friday. 

The College Board Director, Media Relations and External Communications, Jerome White sent KVUE this statement about the AP test changes:

"Most students have completed nearly a year’s worth of challenging course work, with the aim of earning college credit and placement by taking an AP Exam. We asked more than 18,000 AP students whether they wished to test this year, if provided with an at-home option, and the overwhelming majority (91%) said yes.

We could have chosen to cancel this year’s AP Exams, but instead we are making the financial investments necessary to ensure any willing and motivated AP student has the opportunity to earn the credit they deserve, despite the need for social distancing. We must make a significant financial investment to build online testing options for millions of students worldwide and the capacity for thousands of faculty to the read and score students’ responses online. We will also need to pay a third party to run plagiarism checks on millions of pages of student writing. Our commitment is to students and to making college affordable for them, and we will incur significant expense to deliver on this commitment.

We’re confident that the vast majority of Higher Ed institutions will award credit as they have in the past. We’ve spoken with hundreds of institutions across the country who support our solution for this year’s AP Exams.

Students will be able to take these streamlined exams on any device they have access to—computer, tablet, or smartphone. Taking a photo of handwritten work will also be an option. We recognize that the digital divide could prevent some low-income and rural students from participating. Working with partners, we are investing so these students have the tools and connectivity they need to review AP content online and take the exam. If your students need mobile tools or connectivity, they can reach out to us directly to let us know by April 24."


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