Francis Lewis Prepares for Modified AP Exams

With the cancellation of standardized tests such as state Regents Examinations, the College Board has remained firm in its decision to administer AP Examinations this school year, which will offer students credit for college-level courses upon achieving a high score. Francis Lewis High School offers a wide selection of AP Courses for students to take. 

According to the College Board, exams administered this spring will be modified in accordance with the closing of high schools across the country. These changes include a new time limit for each exam, as well as modified questions and the removal of certain topics and criteria, while maintaining a similar rubric. 

For example, students normally have 1 hour and 55 minutes to answer 55 multiple choice questions and two additional hours to write three essays on the AP Language Exam. However, AP Language students are now writing one essay in 45 minutes, according to AP Language teacher Ms. Contino.   

“I think the time constraint is better and there’s less pressure because they’re being asked to prepare for less,” Ms. Contino said.  “I think it can be a very good thing for many of our students, but that does not take into account students that have technology issues. They have to rely on their own devices and if they struggle in that area it can be very problematic.”  

Francis Lewis teachers in other subjects describe a similar modification.

“In our school in general, students tend to do better on MC sections, so now they’re not going to have that cushion,” AP Statistics teacher Ms. Voyiatzoglou said. “Therefore, I believe these exams will be harder in that way.”  

“On the other hand, it might be easier because they removed units from the curriculum so that students have less to prepare for. Hopefully that will offset the removal of the multiple choice section.” 

With a modified exam, teachers and students at FLHS have tried a different approach to prepare for the exam. 

“Instead of focusing on multiple choice since remote learning has started, I have been assigning only free response questions and having students grade their own work so they can see what the exams will be asking,” Ms. Voyiatzoglou said.

“My AP World teacher lets us do one DBQ outline and 20-30 multiple choice for practice every week leading to the exam date,” sophomore Jin Yi said.  

Along with modifications to the exam itself, the College Board has also come up with a new way to administer the test for students. Students will be emailed an individual AP ID, which they will use to log into the College Board website to take their exam. However, the transition to remote testing isn’t without its challenges. Students across the country have already exhibited certain errors within the system after being unable to log-in online to complete their exams. 

As a result of concerns for security and a modified exam, the College Board has announced another change. Unlike previous years where rows of students were put in gyms or libraries surrounded by proctors, students this year will be taking the exam from the comfort of their own homes, and textbooks, signifying an open-book exam. 

“There’s no way to prevent cheating or to prevent students from using open books anyway so I think exams have to be administered this way,” Ms. Voyiatzoglou said.

Some Francis Lewis students share Ms. Voyiatzoglou’s sentiments. 

“It’s necessary for students to have an open-book exam because those who don’t have the material to study are at a disadvantage,” sophomore Warren Wu said, who is currently enrolled in AP World History.

Despite an open-book test, the College Board has made it clear that it will still monitor and discipline students that look to cheat on the exam, in a general effort to maintain the integrity of the exam. According to the College Board, social media and discussion sites will be actively monitored and students who continue to attempt to cheat on an exam will have their test invalidated, as well as lose the opportunity to take future College Board Exams

“The College Board seems to be very confident that they’re able to monitor sites and social media,” sophomore Gavin He said, who will be taking the AP World History exam this semester. “I feel like this is just a scare tactic to discourage people from cheating. They probably cannot monitor students as efficiently as they could as guessing if a student is cheating is not optimal.” 

“I think there’s some issues there,” Ms. Contino said, “but College Board is doing everything they can to maintain their integrity. Of course some of that will be compromised since you won’t have proctors to look after the students. Students are very clever, and they can find ways to get around the security.”

Ms. Contino also believes that the integrity of Francis Lewis students will prevail during these exams.

“When you talk about security, it’s about the code of ethics that each student follows, and it just tells you how every individual feels about integrity,” Ms. Contino said. 

With the modifications and changes to the exam, students have also expressed concerns that some teachers have not yet offered live Zoom sessions for their students. 

“I wish my teacher would give more guidance,” sophomore Kaysie Cheng said. “The benefit of remote learning is that we learn how to study ourselves, but since some teachers don’t offer live sessions, it puts us at a disadvantage.”

Other students expressed a similar opinion. 

“I think teachers not hosting live sessions could potentially hurt students,” junior Justin Baung said. “Those sessions can be important for review.” 

When asked about the possibility of colleges to take less into account the exam credits from this year as a result of an open-book or modified exam, Ms. Contino sincerely hoped not. 

“Every college and university is going through everything that every high school is going through,” Ms. Contino said. “Every student across the country is going through the same modifications. We’re all taking the same test this year. I would hope colleges take into account the circumstances that students are working with. I hope they’ll continue to award the college credits to students that are worthy and did a good job on an exam.”