AP Exams: What You Need to Know


User:Eginmotion96, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

This is the logo for the College Board AP Exams. AP Exams were first created in the 1950s, due to many fearing that high schoolers weren’t prepared for college work.

Ralph Guerrero, Journalist

AP exams are usually 2-3 hour plus tests meant to see how well students understood a topic throughout the year, and the pandemic has changed the way students feel about their preparedness for the exams.

Freshman Valery Garcia states, “Tomorrow [Tuesday, May 11th], I’m going to be taking my first AP test for my Spanish class, and in all honesty I truly do feel prepared for this year’s test. That will be my only one this year.” 

Garcia goes on to say “I think that my teacher has done a good job at helping us prepare and teaching us what we need to know.” She thinks that all of the homework assignments given “served as much needed practice to help better prepare me for the exam.”

Garcia says that her exam will be in person, although she states that she would prefer to do it at home because she would be in her own environment, and be able to focus much better while being more comfortable. This year, students across the nation have the option to decide whether they want to take AP exams at home or at school. 

On the other hand, sophomore Porscha Guerrero thinks that the pandemic has made things a bit harder academically, because, “Online school is just not the same as in person learning. It is a whole different and new experience, and it’s harder to focus at home. But I still learn things either way.” The test that she is going to take is the Spanish IV test. 

Like Garcia, it is Guerrero’s first AP test ever, and her only test this year, although she states, “I can definitely manage through it.”

Junior Olivia Brown took an AP Euro exam last year and said that it was a bad experience. This year, however, was better for her taking her APUSH (U.S history), AP Calculus AB, and AP English exams. She feels as if she was ready for 2 out of 3 tests, and states that, “AP Calculus was a lost cause. I struggled with it all year, and distance learning definitely did not make it easier. I’m still satisfied with my performance, however.”

Due to AP testing difficulties last year, there have been lawsuits costing $500 million towards the College Board, because of students not being able to submit their answers. The lawsuit says that this is the fault of the exam creators. The lawsuit also says that the College Board was guilty of gross negligence, breach of contract, and misrepresentation. According to the Washington Post, critics said it was not fair to students who had bad internet, a bad computer, or are disabled, even though the College Board tried to help. They also said that a shortened test was not completely valid.

Students who had issues during AP testing last year discovered that they could not turn in all of their work and answers. Some took photographs or recordings of their answers, yet the College Board denied them and told the students that they could not be scored and that they would need to retake their tests in June.

Guerrero says that this lawsuit was good, because, “I would be mad if all my work was for nothing and I had to retake the exams.” 

She continues to say “It’s their job to make sure that everything is in order and organized so everything turns out right.”

Brown disliked the fact that “The entire test consisted of one DBQ (data based question), and I got the French Revolution. I ended up getting a 2, and to be honest I am still bitter about it,  because I don’t understand how the College Board thought that one DBQ on a random topic would accurately determine whether or not I learned enough in the class throughout the year. I am confident that if I had taken the full exam, I would have passed it. Plus, my parents still had to pay the same price that they would have paid had I taken the full exam on paper.” She then continues saying, “I’m glad that they decided to give us the full in-person exams this year because I feel like my knowledge and my abilities were more accurately tested. I was also glad to see that they offered full online versions as well for the people who do not yet feel comfortable coming to school, because of the virus.”

This year, the tests are full length. Students are encouraged to visit the College Board website for upcoming exam dates.

Right now, there are administration 3 and 4 available for AP students. Administration 3 is available June 1, 2021 through June 11, 2021. Administration 4 is available for students who tested during administration 3, and need to take a make-up digital exam or for students who weren’t able to test during administration 3.