AP exams go online amid coronavirus pandemic, board insists cheating a non-issue

In light of recent responses due to the coronavirus, the College Board has announced at home Advanced Placement tests in order to accommodate high school and college students staying home.

In a Friday announcement regarding its response to the coronavirus outbreak, the College Board said it will spend the next month working to make sure it can facilitate a “45-minute online free-response exam at home,” that will replace the traditional AP test model for which high school students receive college credit for a passing grade.

“Educator-led development committees are currently selecting the exam questions that will be administered,” said the board, reassuring students and parents that “colleges support this solution and are committed to ensuring that AP students receive the credit they have worked this year to earn.”

“For decades, colleges have accepted a shortened AP Exam for college credit when groups of students have experienced emergencies,” the board reasoned. While students will be able to access their online AP tests on any computer, tablet, or smartphone, “taking a photo of handwritten work will also be an option.”

Students with limited internet or device resources are encouraged to contact the board directly for solutions. 

The board also promised that although “security” concerns are valid, “exam questions are designed and administered in ways that prevent cheating,” using technology such as “plagiarism detection software.” 

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“If schools can’t teach students the entire required amount of education, why should they be expected to be tested on information they haven’t been properly taught?” James, one Florida high school student who asked Campus Reform to only use his first name, said.

A student at Cambridge Christian school in Tampa, Florida who is currently taking two AP classes and who asked to remain anonymous, said that not being able to take the AP test at all would be “definitely unfair” since she’s been working so hard “just to not receive my credit,” but acknowledged that “kids would probably cheat online.”

Katya Stiranka, an AP student at Kamiak High School, told Campus Reform that she thinks that this is a “terrible idea” as students will not be able to focus like they do in class and that everyone “may not have access to these resources” needed for online examinations. 

Gisselle Cruz, a student at Bloomingdale High School in Valrico, Florida, said that she’s worried as to how this will “affect the already-set standard.”

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College students have also given their take on what the College Board is doing. 

Jamie Lynn, a student at the College at Brockport – SUNY, said that she was shocked to see these tests being moved online because “they are so strict about kids not having their phones, needing their ID, etc,” and she also thinks it will be interesting how the tests will “administer all the paperwork, like the multiple-choice questions or essay questions.” 

University of Florida student Ashley Stultz said as someone who took AP classes, she believes moving them online is a bad idea, noting that students are “increasingly creative in finding ways to effectively cheat on online testing softwares,” but that the College Board doesn’t have “much of a choice” other than to do so. “Most graduate-school entrance exams have been postponed to unknown dates, but I don’t think we can do the same for AP exams,” she added.

Campus Reform reached out to the College Board but received no comment in time for publication.

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