AP Testing Moves Online Due to Pandemic

In 2020, Dimond AP students were forced to rapidly adjust to the new form of end of the year testing.

With the rising tide of Covid cases in Alaska and around the nation, the College Board was obligated to change their testing system away from the classic pen-and-paper model, to the less often-utilized online method.

However, in the 2021 school year, Dimond has changed the structure of its testing method in advance, focusing heavily on the online method.

Jennifer Childress, a Dimond AP Physics teacher and chair of the Dimond AP teacher’s committee, said, “The decision to offer digital online tests for many of our AP tests this year was made by the school administration (Ms. [Andrea] Holt and Ms. [Tina] Johnson-Harris).”

With the focus on online testing, there are some concerns about how the new system and its unique characteristics will affect students.

One major change for online test takers will be the inability to change multiple choice questions once they have selected an answer and moved on, something in-person test takers are able to do.

However, there are more than a few upsides to the new testing method for online students.

Amber Jaasma, a Dimond Counselor and member of Dimond’s AP testing committee, said, “In terms of if you’re doing digital at home, we’re not worrying about who you’re sitting next to, we’re not worried if we have enough proctors, we’re not worried about a fire alarm going off in the middle of a test.

“What we we’re really concerned about was having scheduling in-person and not having enough people to give it, or having students in a situation with exposure where students would have to take the digital test anyways,” Jaasma added.

Childress was also unconcerned about any possible changes in the upcoming AP testing, citing her belief in the flexibility of Dimond students.

Childress said, “I do think that some changes will benefit students and some changes will make things more difficult. Some students may find that typing answers is better than handwriting. 

“The changes to multiple choice questions may require students to have different test-taking strategies. I don’t think that students need to study different material, but they may want to practice different test-taking practices and strategies to prepare for this test,” Childress added.

In the end, Jaasma hopes that the tests and testing environments will be fair for all AP test takers, and has confidence in the design of the tests being a fair assessment of students’ abilities.

Jaasma said, “It’s not like, hey we’re going to give you both the same test, but you can go back over your answers and this person can’t. But I think AP has worked really hard to change from the kind of last-minute digital opportunity last year, which was not the same as the test they’re giving this year.”

Despite all the problems that befell AP testing, and school life in general at the end of last year, this return to a newly designed AP test may be a sign of a return to normalcy at last.