Student, teacher discuss changes to AP exams, hopes for this year

Karolena Zhou

Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The College Board changed the formats of AP exams by shortening them to 45 minutes and removing some of the tested content. However, this year, College Board’s current plan for AP exams is to revert them back to their traditional versions.

“We believe the test will most likely be the ‘regular’ format, but we aren’t really sure about much outside of this. We feel that this could change at any point, too,” AP U.S. History teacher Allison Hargrove said.

After learning that the AP exam was most likely going to be the “regular format,” junior Emma Xiao said she is a little worried about the exam.

“When I learned that the AP exam was most likely going to be like the exams before (COVID-19), I felt a little bit stressed,” Xiao said. “Since I’m a virtual student, I kind of have to self study for all my classes, so I am kind of worried about the exam.”

Even though the format for AP exams is not fully decided yet, Hargrove said she has been preparing her students for the exam since the beginning of the school year.

“Right now, I’m focusing on learning the material and the necessary skills needed to be successful. (Most) of our test is based upon writing, and we are trying to learn and master these abilities. I’ll start working on prepping for the national exam when I get closer to the actual test and feel more confident about the different nuances of the test.”

However, due to the different versions of learning, there have been some difficulties in preparing for the exam.

“It really is a guessing game. I have students who are learning 100% virtually and students who are 50/50 in-person and virtual. (AP U.S. History) is already a class that is tough to fit in a single year. This year, it’s especially difficult,” Hargrove said. “Honestly, I struggle with identifying the best resources for my students and constantly worry that, at any given point, the test might change and our hard work will be for naught. This is unquestionably the most challenging year I’ve ever taught, and I know I am not alone in this sentiment. I take it one day at a time, have learned to be more flexible, and have learned to do my best with the current circumstances.”

Due to AP exams reverting back to the original version, Hargrove said that she felt stressed.

“I feel stressed like most teachers and students. I am not sure how it’s organized quite yet. To me, this is the frustrating part,” Hargrove said. “I feel that, by now, we should have clarification about the test and the procedures that will be implemented. I am hoping that once this info is made available, I will feel more at ease.”

Xiao said she agreed with Hargrove and said she would feel less stressed if she knew how the AP exam was going to be organized.

“I would feel more comfortable if I knew what the exams (are) going to be like,” Xiao said. “While I am stressed about the exam, it would make me feel better to know (the design) of the test.”