AP tests have gone from mostly worthless and a College Board money grab to almost entirely worthless and even more of a College Board money grab. Students have gone from cramming their knowledge of an entire year’s coursework into a 3 hour exam to cramming it into a 45 minute exam. Yet, students still overpay and the College Board retains their profits.
The College Board announced on March 23 that the 2020 AP exams would be offered online, shortened to 45 minutes, and taken at home. Yes, a whole year’s worth of information in a 45 minute test with no way of making sure that students do not access the internet or use outside help.
In addition to the shorter timeframe inevitably leading to less content tested, many exams also have entire units that will not be covered on the test. Many tests originally covering 10 units worth of material have been reduced to covering only 8 units, resulting in major topics being cut from the course. While this decision is certainly understandable given that students will not be in physical classrooms to learn the rest of the material for the year, cutting out entire units from the test certainly reduces its value.
An entire year’s coursework simply cannot be covered in a single test. Although this was true before with the three hour test, the shorter test exacerbates this problem. For example, in the AP English Language and Composition exam this year, students have 45 minutes to read a piece of nonfiction writing and analyze the rhetorical situation. This one and only, rushed 45 minute essay allegedly determines whether students write at a college level.
Although AP exams have always been flawed in their claim to test a student’s in-depth understanding of a full year’s coursework in a three hour test, this year’s modification blatantly displays the College Board’s utter disregard for genuine academic assessment. Conveniently enough, they did not offer a refund despite requiring students to sign up for the test by November 1. In years past, the deadline had been in March.
While other organizations such as the IB, which offers similar level coursework to AP, has cancelled their exams, the AP persists in its taking of money.
AP exams have been dwindling in importance for college applications and a decreasing number of colleges accept AP scores for college credit. This year’s changes to the exams that include less test material, shorter format, and less secure testing further contribute to the AP’s irrelevancy, hopefully culminating with the complete irrelevance of the AP and the downfall of the College Board.