AP exams still on, but at what cost?


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The College Board has put SAT exams on hold, but it is moving forward with modified AP exams.

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, an academic problem that students have is how the Advanced Placement and SAT exams will be administered this year. These tests are pivotal to the academic futures of students in terms of acceptances into elite colleges and the transfer of AP credits.

The SAT is on hold, but the College Board has decided to administer AP tests, despite severe limitations. The question on everyone’s mind: At what cost is this being done?

“For most subjects, the exams will be 45 minutes long, plus an additional five minutes for uploading,” the College Board wrote in an email to students. 

This is quite different from the three-hour multiple choice and short answer/essay tests for which students have studied. The students are even allowed, for the first time, to use notes and textbooks during the test. 

These major changes in format raise the question of how, in a single 45-minute test, an accurate determination can be reached concerning how well students truly comprehend content and how they have mastered skills.

The College Board, it could be argued, seems more focused on possible cheating than on actual knowledge.

“Students may not consult with any other individuals during the testing period. We’ll take the necessary steps to protect the integrity of each exam administration, as we do every year,” the College Board wrote in a statement.

Part of the protocol includes a program that “locks down everything else in the computer,” according to College Board President Jeremy Singer.

“The camera and microphone are on, you can detect any movement in the room,” Mr. Singer told The New York Times. “If the parents are in there, next to them, that would be detected.”

This has created much debate about privacy concerns, as many people do not want this type of program on their personal computers. 

Regarding the SAT, now that the June tests have been canceled, it leaves very few  options for current juniors to show colleges their academic knowledge. Historically, they would have been offered exam dates in March, May, and June.

The College Board is currently in discussions regarding the possibility of an at-home SAT exam if school is not back in session come the fall.

Computer access and internet connectivity are yet more questions that have been raised.  Students who are unable to access computers or don’t have reliable service at their houses are at a disadvantage.

The College Board has given the opportunity to refund money to people who do not want to take the test due to these issues, but do students really have a choice? Many schools are still requiring test scores be submitted as part of the admissions package.

So, with all the problems with administering the test online and the way in which it could be taken advantage of, the real question becomes: Is this simply all about the money?