Should College Board Have Shortened AP Exams?

By Nimisha Mikkineni

The 2020-2021 school year has been challenging for students, teachers, and administrators alike. As a result of the COVID-19 induced pandemic, most schools have been forced to go online. With that, the prominent question is: Have students been learning as well online? Many students have been struggling with online learning, due to the formatting of classes and content covered. Teachers have also had a difficult time trying to figure out how to teach their students with technology. 

College Board recently announced that they would be continuing to move forward with plans to have a full-length AP exam, one that covers all the materials that students should have learned over the school year. When College Board made this announcement, they also released a pamphlet that showed where students should be in covering the material. The problem is, many students and classes are behind on the material that they need to cover by May when AP exams are administered. Many teachers believe that the AP exam should have been shortened.

My AP European History teacher expressed a similar concern about this. He was shocked that College Board was planning to go ahead with the full-length exams, especially when there has been less instructional time in classes to teach content. In my class, we have to now learn Units 8 and 9 of the curriculum by ourselves, when during a normal in-person school year, the content would have been covered entirely by the time the AP exam rolled around. Although in my case, this is only one class. I imagine it can be difficult for students who are taking multiple AP classes to cover so much more content by themselves. 

So, should College Board have shortened AP Exams? It is important to consider that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the education of students in lower-income areas disproportionately. A study conducted by RAND Corporation, a non-profit organization, found that 1 in 3 teachers reported that their students were significantly less prepared for classwork in high-poverty schools. When many students have found difficulty in learning enough online, it may have been better for College Board to shorten the exams. 

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