Pro: New APs provide necessary opportunity

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that these are unprecedented times. With shutdowns of almost every type of facility, educational or otherwise, across the globe, it has become difficult to maintain education for America’s youth. 

Although students can no longer be taught through formal education, they still have the opportunity to earn credit for what they’ve learned this year through the College Board’s modified AP exams. Though many criticize the fact that these exams don’t test the full scope of the AP course, in reality, this year’s exams provide the same opportunities for students that the normal AP exams do at a similar level of difficulty, making them the best solution for a difficult educational problem.

First and foremost, people are quick to point out the exam’s length: 45 minutes as opposed to the normal two to three-hour length. However, AP free-response questions, as these exams will be, always call upon a wide variety of skills learned throughout the course. They don’t just focus on one unit or chapter. In this way, these exams can be seen as equally comprehensive as the normal exams.

Additionally, according to Trevor Packer, College Board senior vice president of Advanced Placement and Instruction, the exams will be open-book and open-note. It may appear that this invalidates the purpose of the exam, which is to test one’s knowledge of a subject, but there is a valid reason for this format. Because an online exam makes it easier for students to cheat, this will level the playing field for all AP students. Additionally, because the exams are free-response only, simply being able to access one’s notes can only do so much. Students still have to be well-practiced in the applications of what they’ve learned throughout the year, especially due to the shortened exam length.

This year’s AP exams also minimize the amount of material covered and do not cover the last 25 percent of each course. While this does lessen the amount of required material to study, it is also a necessary measure to ensure that everyone taking the exam is treated equally, including those without ready access to online or in-person studying tools. 

Let’s be honest, losing one or two units from the end of the course isn’t going to make or break one’s ability to understand college courses. After all, most college students have long forgotten the majority of what they learned in high school. What’s important is that students retain the skill to quickly relearn the subject, which you can easily do once facilities are reopened, even if that happens after the AP exams are administered.

The final thing to note about these exams is, that by making these adaptations, they ensure that students haven’t wasted a year of learning. Although many AP courses are centered around the test itself, there’s still plenty that can be gained from practicing multiple-choice questions and all types of FRQs, even if they aren’t the ones you’ll be tested on in the exam. At the end, everyone will still be getting credit for the AP classes they take in a fair manner that colleges will accept as readily as any other AP test.