Perseverance and preparation: AP Exams administered in-person following year of remote learning


Photo credit: Thea Leimone

Chairs placed outside of the Dining Hall with signs to notify others to be quiet while AP Exams take place. The first AP Exams took place at Archer this week, and the rest will follow with some subjects in-person and others online.

By Thea Leimone, Culture Editor

Dozens of single desks line the floor of the dining hall; a tissue box and packet of paper are carefully placed in each seat; students file into the room and nervous chatter fills the air as they prepare to sit for the 3-hour-long AP Calculus (AB and BC) exams. The first AP Exams offered at Archer were administered in-person on Tuesday, May 4, with test taking locations in the Dining Hall and Library.

“There were definitely some holes in my learning. I feel like that could’ve just been a miscommunication on Zoom or just learning in general,” junior Presley Sacavitch said. “I felt a little less prepared because we were online — and I haven’t been going in person, so I’ve been online the whole year.”

Schools’ return-to-campus plans have varied across the country, with some schools returning in the fall and others, such as Archer, making the first return this spring. To account for the differences in learning formats, the College Board offered both online and in-person exam options.

I have to say, for a year of online learning I wasn’t expecting so much just because I knew in other states, people had been in person — so I knew we learned a little bit less than other people,” senior Audrey Irvine said.

Following the initial shutdown of schools due to COVID-19 during the 2019-2020 school year, the College Board made changes to their AP Exam formats. The exams were administered entirely online, shortened to 45 minutes and were considered “open-note.”

“I think we had to prepare a lot more for this year just because last year there wasn’t much we could do. The teachers didn’t really know what to expect last year either,” Irvine said. “This year, teachers were more prepared, and I think they gave us the right information for the testing.”

Archer also announced in March that AP Exams would be optional this year due to the challenges of remote learning. There are a total of 19 AP Exams being offered throughout May, and six — language and math exams — in person. The choice between in-person and online testing was made by each department. Teachers conferred with one another and students to determine the best format.

I think the main thing for me was that I spent the whole year learning it and this doesn’t really go to your GPA and I thought that there were no disadvantages of taking it,” Sacavitch said. “I spent the whole year learning this, so I might as well just take the test and then if I do poorly on it, that’s fine, and if I do well on it, then that’s also great, too.”

With Archer returning to in-person learning after Spring Break, some students were able to attend four classes on-campus before their exam date. In the AP Calculus classes, teachers and students spent the final unit and weeks leading up to the exam reviewing the year’s material and the testing format.

Before, I was really stressed out because I’ve never taken an AP test and I’d been studying a lot. I took a lot of practice tests in the weekend before I took a whole practice test each day so I thought I felt pretty prepared, but I was still really nervous,” Freshman Camila Blank said. “Afterwards, I think I felt a lot better. I felt really relieved. But I also felt like all the studying paid off because I  got to know what types of questions were going to be on the exam, and generally how to solve them, and what formulas to use for each one.”