The Red & Black

College Board’s “Solution” to 2020 AP Exams


While they may be considered optional, AP courses and tests are as good as a requirement for admission to prestigious universities. Admissions officers look for students that have challenged themselves by taking honors and AP classes and have a course load with “academic rigor.” AP exams can also give students a leg-up even before starting college because they can count for college credit or help the student get into higher-level classes.

This year's AP exams only serve to emphasize the College Board's predatory business. Students who paid almost a hundred dollars for a two to three-hour exam are now expected to take a 45-minute long exam online at home, with world language exams lasting only 15-22 minutes. These exams have as few as two questions and utterly fail to test the student's comprehension of the subject accurately. If one of these questions happens to be in an area that a student struggles in, they will receive a poor score for an entire year's worth of learning, based on a two-question exam.

To prevent cheating, exams are now offered at the same time, same day, worldwide. This change affects mainly international students, who, in addition to paying more for the exam, must now wake up at absurd hours of the night to take the tests. Students in India took the AP exam at 1:30 a.m. In Thailand, the test was given at 3 a.m., while in China, students woke up at 4 in the morning to take it.

The 2020 AP exams have even come with server and submission issues. Students cannot submit their work because thousands of other students are also submitting their work in the same five-minute time frame allotted by the College Board. Bob Schaeffer, who leads the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, notes, "The notion that the College Board could immediately take a test administered to millions of kids on pencil and paper [and put it] online flawlessly is incredibly arrogant and unrealistic."

When College Board servers go down or their submission portal fails to work, students are expected to retake a similar exam in June to compensate for College Board's mistakes. The College Board has done virtually nothing to fix the technical issues and seems to believe that tweeting is the best way to resolve these problems. For a "not-for-profit" company that gained over a billion dollars in revenue last year, where has that money gone?

The College Board's poor excuses and actions regarding the 2020 AP exams leave students with nothing but pressing questions about their exams and their college futures. Regardless, it is important to keep in mind that colleges and universities understand that the 2020 AP exams have been designed in a way that does not fully demonstrate a student’s knowledge and potential.

I wish you the best of luck on your AP exams and hope that you’re happy with your scores when they come out in July!