Standardized Testing in the Time of COVID 19: How College Board is changing AP testing and SAT administration

By Julia Moyer and Marissa Yelenik

News Editors

All information in this article is current as of May 11th, 2020

Because of school cancelations and stay at home orders both nationwide and internationally, the College Board has shifted Advanced Placement (AP) testing to an altered online format and canceled SAT administration through June. 

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The new AP test will be a 45-minute online free response test for all subjects, which means all answers will be written and there will be no multiple-choice questions. Also, the content that could potentially be assessed on each exam has been abbreviated. Test questions will cover content that most AP teachers have covered by early March. The lastest testing dates and times for the new format can be found on the College Board website. Testing will occur May 11 through the 22. If for any reason a student cannot test that day (ie. illness, technology problems) they should plan to take their test’s makeup in June. 

Classes which usually have file submissions, such as AP art courses, will continue with that format. However, AP Computer Science Principles scores which are usually determined by a combination of performance task submissions and a multiple-choice exam will now only rely on the performance task submission. 

For the most part, students have said that the change in the format hasn’t changed how they are studying, but most are focusing entirely on free-response questions. AP Physics teacher, Mr. Sivell says that in his class AP review has mostly looked similar to previous years, “For the past two weeks we have been reviewing for the AP Exam by completing and self-grading past [free response questions].  This is exactly what we would have done if we were in class, but now we are doing it online through electronic copies instead of printed versions.” 

Students will be able to take the new AP exam on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. The College Board has said that no camera component will be required and the test is not in a lockdown browser, therefore the test is open note/computer and calculator active. However, the College Board does not believe that internet searches or calculator functions will be helpful in answering questions given on the exam. Junior Shawn Crute says, “I was planning on taking the AP test anyway, but the fact that we have access to our notes/the internet made me want to take them even more,” he adds, “I think I will do better on all of my tests because I’ll have access to my notes, and I am more comfortable at home than a testing site.” Testing at home is a valid concern for some students. Janco Megressa voiced his concerns saying  “I’m not used to taking exams on the computer as much. There are a lot of distractions at home,” he also added that he is concerned about internet issues interfering with his test. This is a valid concern, but students should check the College Board website updated AP exam page for information about requesting a makeup exam in the event that an internet disruption may occur. 

The College Board is also very aware of plagiarism concerns and has warned that they have invested in plagiarism detection software and have put measures into place to make sure students who are not testing with academic integrity are identified. Students will be able to submit their responses by attaching a text file to their test, copying and pasting responses into the text box, or attaching photos of handwritten work. Students can complete the AP Exam Demo to simulate what test day will look like. AP Physics teacher, Mr. Sivell says that “This demo is extremely important for students to practice so that they are familiar with the platform and also to see if there are any compatibility issues.” 

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Students can complete the College Board AP exam demo which shows the format of the new online AP tests

Because of the drastic changes to the exam this year, the College Board has offered a full refund to any student up until test day. Even though he decided to not get the refund, Megressa believes that the new exam, “will not capture my full capabilities [of a] specific subject.” Sophomore Kaylee Beahm stays hopeful saying that “I feel more confident taking the test because there is less content to be given on the test so it makes studying less stressful and overwhelming. I am only taking the AP Government test so I didn’t think using the refund was a good idea… I feel like I’ve worked hard all year so I should take the test.”

Mr. Sivell gives students some words of reassurance, “if a student does earn a 1 or 2 this year, the teacher can request the College Board to reevaluate the student’s exam. This should provide some comfort to students if a score comes back lower than they expected.” From all of us at the Bear Press, we wish you the best of luck on your AP exams this year!

The coronavirus outbreak has also caused large waves in the world of SAT testing. Any planned SAT tests administered by the College Board have been canceled through June in order to keep all those involved safe. For now, no alterations or workarounds have been made to allow students to take the test from home. Any student who had already signed up for the tests planned to occur in March or May will receive refunds. 

Although no plans have been made for at-home testing, additional dates have been added to make up for the ones that are canceled. The College Board stated on their website that if it is safe to do so, they will provide testing dates for the SAT all the way through the end of the calendar year. This adds a new date on September 26, along with the pre-planned tests on August 29, October 3, November 7, and December 5.

These decisions have brought along some frustration from students of all ages who still need to take the test and those who wish to retake it. A junior at Hammond High School expressed the impact these cancellations had on her, saying she “was studying for days on end just for a day that never came,” later adding on that she’s “also glad that [she is] now prepared for the test in the future.”

Lizzy Hughes, a junior, explained a new issue with the cancellations, saying “I was disappointed when the March SATs were canceled because it was the second and last time I was going to take it. Because of the pandemic, I’m not planning on taking another SAT.

I’m happy now that some colleges are looking more at a student’s GPA than a standardized test.” Rachel Osei-Nsafoah added onto the topic, saying that “the outcome of cancellations has caused many schools to go test-optional. I have checked all my interested schools and they have all gone test-optional. This will lead me to not taking the SAT, and just focus on AP exams and final grades.”

Many schools are already test-optional in general, but some schools have decided to waive SAT/ACT admissions requirements for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

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