AP exam format changes to fit new online testing structure

Valeria Luquin

Itzel Luna
The Advanced Placement exam structures have been modified to fit the new online testing format.

Due to school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The College Board has made some adjustments to the format of this year’s Advanced Placement exams. 

“I do understand that it is hard to really prepare us when we aren’t at school and I think that the teachers are doing the best that they can,” sophomore Nadia Montiel said.

The College Board has released the dates, times and exam details of each exam on its website. All of the exams will be open note/open book. Exams will be held on May 11 through May 22. Makeup exams will be held on June 1 through June 5. On May 4, an AP exam demo was launched to let students practice all the different ways they can submit their exam responses. 

Rather than having students take the usual three-hour exam, they’ll be taking a modified 45-minute free-response version at home. Students taking the AP Spanish Language Culture Exam are expected to be done with their exam in 22 minutes. Thirty minutes before the exam starts, students will need to click on the link in their e-ticket to begin filling out some questions.  Each exam will only focus on most of the units students learned before the school closures.

Students taking the AP English Language and Composition exam will write a rhetorical analysis essay and the English Literature and Composition exam will write one prose fiction analysis essay. They’ll have 45 minutes to read the question and write their response. After, they’ll have five minutes to submit their written or typed responses. 

Students taking the AP Calculus exam will have 25 minutes to read the first question and work on their response. Then they will have 5 minutes to submit their responses. Once the responses have been submitted for the first question, they will not be able to go back to it. After, they will have 15 minutes to read and respond to the second question. They will then get five minutes to submit their responses. 

“On one hand, I’m grateful for the shorter time but on the other hand, I’m worried I won’t be able to turn in my best essay because I ran out of time,” junior Samantha Mills, who is taking both the AP U.S. History and AP Literature and Composition exams, said. 

With only 45 minutes to write an essay, there are some who wish this year’s exam would be canceled altogether, including US History teacher Brenda Helfing.

“The at-home format with notes can not possibly demonstrate how much the student knows overall, especially in history,” Helfing said. “The test will only show what they know on one or two topics.”

Students taking an AP World Language Exam will have their exam administered on a new free app, the AP World Languages Exam App. The exam will only consist of two speaking tasks this year. The app will be available for download the week of May 11. The students taking this exam will be required to use this app on either a smartphone or tablet. 

Upon downloading, students will be able to become familiarized with the app before their exam day. On the day of their exam, the app will switch from practice mode to exam mode once you check in with your e-ticket. Students and their teachers will be emailed with more details when the app is released for download. 

To help students prepare, The College Board is live streaming free review lessons for each course taught by AP teachers. On May 1 at 9 a.m., there was a special edition live stream for AP U.S. History with special guest, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and original star of the Tony-winning musicals, “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.” These review lessons are also available on their YouTube channel. Along with review lessons, The College Board is sending emails to students to inform them of any new information regarding their exam. 

“I have been preparing for the AP exam by reading from my Princeton Review (book) on AP World History,” sophomore Jhonny Gonzalez said. “ I have been watching some videos but not all.”

Students will have to pay $94 per exam or $5 if they are eligible for the reduced price. As of right now, AP exam fees will not be collected until the Los Angeles Unified School District informs administration on a safe way to collect the money.

I’m taking two AP exams (this year) and it isn’t my first,” junior Anthony Martinez said. “(I feel) good because it’s going to be a lot less stress and it saves more time. I prefer this year’s time format.”