College Board announces shortened, online AP tests in response to COVID-19 school closures


Photo credit: Anna Brodsky

On Friday, the College Board announced that AP exams will be shortened to 45 minutes and be conducted online. Students are required to know a reduced scope of content for each course, and online review will be available for free.

By Anna Brodsky, Editor-in-Chief

The College Board announced Friday that AP Exams will not happen as normal for the 2020 test administration. Instead, students will take 45-minute versions of each exam online, and the content tested will be limited to what would typically be covered in each course before March, when schools across the country started closing. College Board will also be providing online AP Review lessons starting March 25.

Students will be able to choose between two test administration dates, which will be announced on April 3.

The College Board email said that colleges will give students credit for this shortened exam, just as they would in past years when groups of students have experienced emergencies.

For senior Isabella Silvers, who currently takes AP Art History, the news that her exam would be shortened from about three hours to less than an hour was surprising.

“That topic and that class covers so much material, I think you can’t fit it into a [multi-hour] test, nevertheless a 45-minute test,” she said. “It’s going to be difficult to consider what to study.”

Julian Rojas, who teaches AP Calculus AB, and Travis Nesbitt, who chairs the World Language Department and teaches AP French, both questioned the extent to which a 45-minute test could measure students’ understanding.

“I’m not sure what an accurate assessment that may be or how informative the AP score would be to a student,” Nesbitt said. “In some ways, it might actually be a bit of a relief because it’s almost like a pass if you don’t do well.”

AP Human Geography teacher Beth Gold sees a potential opportunity to tailor her course even more to her students’ interests.

“It gives me a lot of free rein moving forward,” she said, “to make the course material…a little bit more student-driven and less focused on memorization of vocabulary and concepts.”

All three teachers encouraged students not to fixate on the structure of the AP test.

“In some ways, I think this is the last thing students need to be worrying about — the AP and what its new format is,” he said. “I just don’t want it to be a source of stress for them. I’m going to keep on keeping on, and the chips will fall where they may.”