AP students adjust to revamped testing schedule

Carver: Show the world that you are smart

AP students adjust to revamped testing schedule

Toby Bradshaw, Reporter

Among all of the changes to students’ daily lives and schedules because of COVID-19 and the shutdown of the campus, some classes are affected more than others. With Advanced Placement, the entire year is spent preparing for one final three-hour test.

However, due to the virus, these tests have been fundamentally changed with the AP’s transition to online exams.

According to Mrs. Kimberly Carver, who teaches English and serves as the school’s AP coordinator, “All exams were shortened. Multiple choice has been removed. (And) some exams went from three hours to 45 minutes.” This means that much of the learning and practice that was already done for multiple choice or other deleted sections is no longer directly applicable.

Carver said, “Losing our time in brick and mortar classrooms is probably affecting some students negatively from just an emotional perspective. I worry about that more than anything. There does seem to be a bit of hopelessness and a desire to just throw in the towel on the whole year. But we can’t do that.  We won’t do that.”

Mr. Mark Matthews, interim vice principal for academics and AP U.S. History teacher, along with AP Chemistry teacher Mrs. Vicki Roessler, said they believe that the difficulties that come from losing class time are balanced by the shortened testing time and altered format and content.

Matthews said, “If we had to teach the full curriculum and give the complete test, my students would be less ready. Because of the modifications, I think we will be fine.” He does think that because of being out of class, students will have to take more initiative to review. Matthews said, “I think the online tests will reflect how well students choose to prepare. I don’t think it will be much different, and I have hopes that they scores may even improve overall because of the shortened curriculum and test.”

The College Board has released a schedule of free online review sessions for each AP exam subject.

Even with more hands on classes such as chemistry, Roessler said she believes that her students will still perform well “since we got through all of the material that will be on the test before we went to online learning.”

However, Roessler continues, “The only problem is the lack of being able to go over questions from the practice tests they are working on from now until the AP exam in person.” Roessler is confident in her students’ ability to excel despite the changes to the classroom setting. She said, “I’m just really proud of my students and how much time and effort they put into this class, which is one of the hardest classes at Cathedral, and can’t wait to see how they do on the test as well as when they get to college.”

Although the shortened curriculum allows for the shortened tests, covering less content isn’t better for all subjects. Roessler said, “I was a little disappointed that the College Board has decided to cut out the last two units, because we were able to get through all of the material, but I understand why they did it. Most schools don’t move as fast as we do.” Removing only the last few chapters from the test isn’t beneficial for classes that cover the material in the same manner as AP Chemistry or for classes such as AP Government, which sometimes review chapters slightly out of order.

The AP testing schedule has also changed. Carver said, “Tests start a week later. There is no test overlap. And we test later in the day because we are on Eastern time, so, no tests before noon.” Furthermore, in the past, some tests have overlapped with the Irish 500. For better or for worse, that won’t be a problem this year; not because the schedule is changed, but because there will be no Irish 500, at least not attended by the entire student body

These changes to the test have made Carver’s job more challenging. Carver said, “There have been a lot of changes to AP testing this year which had nothing to do with this latest twist. AP (opened) up a lot more online, including online ordering of tests and enrollment in classes and AP virtual classrooms.”

Carver continued, “It has been a lot to manage, but now I don’t have to manage paper and pencil tests.”

Although everyone is hoping that scores will improve, College Board is determined to make sure that cheating won’t be the reason for such improvement. Carver said, “College Board has published and non-published means by which they are discouraging cheating. Their warning that they will inform colleges of any students who cheat scared me and I’m not even taking the tests.” College Board’s warning to colleges that a student plagiarized or cheated could be detrimental to the college admissions process.

To help students prepare, Carver said there are an “unprecedented (amount of) materials available to students directly from College Board. College Board Live is available for every course on Youtube.  It really is allowing students to do some extra preparation if they are motivated and willing.”

But, most importantly, students should strive to do better on these tests not because of the all these changes, but in spite of them. Carver said, “There are many reasons why it is important that our students do well on AP exams. But mostly, I just want students to do well because it’s the right thing to do for themselves.”

She said, “Take back what you have lost. Show the world that you are smart, educated and ready for the next level.”