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AP exams undergo changes to format, location

Clara Martinez
This year, the Advanced Placement exams occur May 5 to June 10. In comparison to the 2019-20 school year, some alterations to exam format options have been maintained as a result of COVID-19 while others have returned to normal.

From May 5 to June 10, students sit Advanced Placement exams. 

In addition to classrooms and the Learning Commons, some students take their exams at 47 Grove End Road or the Danubius Hotel. In previous years, AP exams were taken on paper, but this year, both paper and digital formats are offered. Students may also choose to opt-out of an exam, similarly to last school year when exams became optional.

After taking her first AP exam, Campbell Lazar (’23) said overall, AP Computer Science A was a positive introduction to college-level courses. 

“It was a great way to have a first AP and not have it feel too overwhelming, taking three or four at once,” she said. “That introduction I think is really helpful and will help me for next year.”

Lazar said using paper and pencil was most effective for the Computer Science exam. 

“You’re not able to circle things online which really helps me plan out what I’m trying to write in code,” she said.

Similarly, Ambrose Vannier (‘21), who is currently enrolled in five AP courses – AP European History, AP Calculus AB, AP Studio Art, AP Physics 2 and AP Computer Science A – said he prefers taking the exams on paper. Digital exams prohibit students from returning to the previous question once an answer has been submitted.

“I like to go back and check my answers at the end on ones I’m not sure about,” he said. “It’s really helpful to just skip questions when you don’t have that much time and then you can come back at the end.”

On the other hand, Darren Morris, who takes AP Computer Science A and AP Physics 1, said he prefers the online format because it is scheduled later in the year which “gives you a lot more time to prepare.”

Along with the introduction of different formats, AP exams have returned to lasting two to three hours, despite previously being changed to 45 minutes in the 2019-20 school year.

Morris said with the continuation of lockdown and distance learning, the College Board cut three units from the AP Physics 1 curriculum.

“We’ve had like a full week of just preparation in class, like studying and doing review that we wouldn’t have had before,” he said. “Normally we’d have content to cover up until the exam.”

Although distance learning interrupted the school year, Morris said virtual classes did not hinder his experience in AP courses.

“I didn’t find that there was that much of a drawback because it just turned into a lot more time to study by yourself and work on stuff,” he said.

Similarly, Vannier said the transition into lockdown did not impact his ability to complete classwork and prepare for exams.

“We transitioned to them pretty smoothly, and we were able to do all the work that we needed to do,” he said. “In some ways, Zoom and doing things online sometimes helped because we could do study groups at home.”

However, Lazar said being at school in person since March 8 has made it easier for her to prepare for the exam. 

“Because school has been in person and not over distance learning, I’ve been able to see my teachers and do the prep that I felt necessary,” she said.

After taking two of his exams, Vannier said he looks forward to being able to enjoy the final weeks of school without the additional academic pressure of APs.

“One nice thing about doing the exams is the rest of the year is much more relaxed,” he said. “I get to relax and say goodbye to my friends and my teachers as well.”

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About the Contributor
Clara Martinez
Clara Martinez, Editor-in-Chief
Clara Martinez (’24) is the Editor-in-Chief for The Standard. She began journalism as an editor of the Middle School newspaper The Scroll and joined The Standard in Grade 9. Martinez is drawn to investigative news stories and profiles, although she does enjoy producing the occasional broadcast or photo gallery. In or out of the newsroom, she can always be found with a pocket-sized notebook and pen in hand.

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