Going back to physical AP exams in an unprecedented school year

Tiberius Marks

Crimson Chronicle Reporter

Taking AP exams has been unique for students, especially in the case of juniors. Most juniors have done at least one AP exam, but the return to in-person school meant they had to do the physical exam. 

”It wasn’t jarring, just tedious, the multiple-choice and the short answers were easy but when it came to long answer essay, free response, and document-based it became difficult to continue writing,” said Giovani Lemus, a PAM junior taking two AP classes. “Had it been typing I think I would have done a better job being time efficient and organized/neat.” 

Luckily, the experience allowed juniors to get a feel for what AP exams are really like.

“I will take AP classes next year,” said Axel Recinos, a SAS junior taking three AP courses. “I do think this experience has left me more confident.” 

One of the biggest changes from switching to an online format to an in-person test is that students spend half of their school day at a desk, having to write their answers by hand.

John Jung, a SAS junior taking five APs, said that his hand cramped during the exam, creating an unusual difficulty that online exams hadn’t given. This problem was also experienced by Giovani who said, “it did become difficult on paper because my hands were getting tired and so it took up more time on certain sections.”

With the new schedule, classes had met for half the days they usually did before the pandemic. Class time per week was also cut down, meaning less time for the same amount of material. 

“We did miss some units due to only having two to three days [weekly] with the class, so occasionally we would have to teach ourselves the material,” Giovani said.

Though, some felt it was sufficient enough to learn everything. ”I think for almost all my classes we practiced enough,” said Ara Chimil, a SAS junior taking four AP courses.

Another issue that’s been prevalent concerning AP exams for a long time is that students have to condense their knowledge of the course into a three-hour exam. 

”Personally, I don’t think it’s an accurate judge of one’s knowledge but they’re what I expected being your typical CollegeBoard exam,” Ara said.

Though, Axel felt otherwise. ”I believe it was a good judgment of the knowledge that I have obtained by taking these courses.”

There’s some mixed reception of the exam this year, but it has not deterred students from taking AP courses next year. 

”I have to take more,” John said. 

This year’s return to normality meant students had to experience what used to be normal after their unusual experiences. Both online and in-person AP exams bring difficulties, but students adapted to both as much as they could despite it.

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