Preparing for AP tests at home

By Gisselle Washington | Big Stick Editor |

With the ongoing spread of novel COVID-19, States have been taking initiatives to decrease transmission. Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order to close schools for the remainder of the year, leaving Advanced Placement students in a challenging position to take their end of year exams for college credit without in-person instruction.  

Mrs. Milton hand delivers packets to her AP Euro kids’ houses on March 27. Courtesy Photo.

College Board, the issuer of AP and SAT tests, has responded to the pandemic by altering the Advanced Placement exams from in-person testing to virtual testing. Roosevelt had 682 students sign up to take the AP exams with registration for 1,139 exams. 

“I think it’s good that College Board is still having the AP exams,” Counselor Melissa Tejeda said. “Students work really hard on AP courses, and the benefit of taking AP courses is that students have a chance to earn college credit.  The Coronavirus outbreak is a completely unexpected event, and it should not take away students’ opportunities to earn college credit in high school.  So I am glad that the College Board has made the changes necessary to allow students to have the opportunity to earn college credit.”

The last quarter of instruction at Roosevelt, impacted by COVID-19, has left teachers to transition to distance learning for their students. Advanced Placement material left uncovered post-spring break would be taught virtually or through physical packets. 

“I don’t feel prepared at all for the upcoming exams,” senior Whitney Hicks said. “I’ve never been one to do school work at home and have trouble really focusing in short periods of time. So being secluded in a situation that has both issues concerns me.”

English Teacher Natasha Christian instructs students in AP Literature and Composition of those students who decide to take the AP exam for college credit. The changes in AP testing altered the expectations on students this year to approximately ¼ of the normal expectation for the exam with modifications of removing poetry and reducing the exam time from 3 hours to 45 minutes.

“Some of my students are sharing concerns about testing from home, typing or writing and uploading their responses in a 50-minute window and not being able to use skills learned in class like annotations,” Christian said. “The changes, unfortunately, have caused some of my students to question whether they want to even complete the exam this year. I keep assuring them that they will be fine and that they should attempt the exam.”

College Board has assured colleges and universities alongside students that the adjustments to the Advanced Placement exams will keep the integrity of the predecessors as it moves to be administered online.

“I like that they’re giving the opportunity to students to test but I honestly don’t think it’s going to go too good,” Hicks said. “I wonder how they’re grading, given only 45 minutes for 1 or 2 free-response questions means 1 mistake can drop you pretty low I suspect… Overall I know the focus is lost from a majority of students and 45 minutes is not enough time; it’s pressuring so I don’t expect much result wise.”

Schools across the country have had to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by making sure that students of all backgrounds have access to materials such as electronic devices and calculators to make them successful for the AP exams.

NEISD has tried to make sure that all students have access to the internet and to a device on which to take their AP exams,” Tejeda said. “It’s great that the exams are offered online, but we need to make sure that everyone has access in order to take the exams.”

The wellbeing of students across the country is at the utmost priority of school districts and teachers. More importantly, they shall not be displaced during these times.  

“I truly care about the welfare of my students and for me teaching AP Literature is always more than the test,” Christian said. “I have enjoyed the personal conversations with my students that this time allows.  The AP literature course is a course about humanity and I see my students ‘humanness’ more than ever during this pandemic.”

Advanced Placement Exams are to be administered in a two week window from May 11 to May 22.