ILLUSTRATION BY CHELSEA LAM

The College Board improves on 2020 disappointment

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Following the abrupt, disastrous changes to AP exams last year, the College Board has made tremendous strides in improving the 2021 exams as the pandemic continues to disrupt learning. Student voices complaining over how poorly the exams were conducted after an entire school year of studying have evidently been heard by the College Board, prompting appropriate changes for this upcoming May.

As the pandemic continues to rage on, the College Board has made efforts in relieving any pressure students may have. The new back-out system allows for a full refund with no cancellation fee up until the day of the test. Students are now able to decide whether or not they feel prepared to take the test, mitigating any worries that if they opt out, their money will go to waste. Seeing as virtual learning may pose as a barrier for many, it is only appropriate that students fully focus on the material taught rather than any doubts of testing.

AP daily videos are also being released on a more frequent basis, being available for students to access on AP Classroom. Whereas the review videos in preparation for last May’s exams were long winded and slow-paced, these videos are much briefer, focusing on the specific key ideas for students to grasp. With practice problems in every video, the College Board is providing an amazing resource for students to supplement their current learning progress.

The most recognizable change to the upcoming exams is that original full-length tests will now be administered. At first glance, concerns arise as to whether students will be capable of taking an entire three-hour-long exam from home. However, last year’s dramatic condensation of the tests only caused more harm. Students and teachers prepared for months on end with old testing formats in mind, including multiple-choice and various free-response questions, but tests only zeroed in on one topic and format. But these modifications allow for a demonstration of knowledge of the full curriculum rather than one singular topic.

The College Board has announced productive adjustments in assisting students through an unorthodox learning year. As the 2021 AP exams inch closer and closer, more details will be released, but current regulations prove to embody a more holistic assessment of students’ understanding. Given more time in preparing for this year’s exams, it is only fitting that the College Board’s execution is of standards.

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