With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a transition to online school, there have been several changes to end-of-course exams in the United States. While most classes will not have a final or EOC, Advanced Placement exams have continued onward with a few changes.
The traditional format of the exams were abandoned, with the majority of the test now focusing on one or two long answer questions, like FRQs (Free-Response Questions) or DBQs (Document-Based Questions). All multiple choice questions were discarded and all material that was not taught before the pandemic was not included on the exam either.
The College Board made the new exams much shorter, cutting down to 45 minutes. With a shorter test, it was important that students practiced timing themselves and made sure they could go through each part of the updated exam without wasting time.
“The AP World test had a lot of sections before, but now it’s just 45 minutes for a DBQ,” sophomore Evie Murker said. “ [To prepare,] I found practice DBQ questions and tried to keep it under 45 minutes, which is really hard to do.”
As with any year, reviewing and going over notes for the class helped since time in school was cut short due to the pandemic. To make up for the time lost, students could watch some of the videos the College Board has posted on YouTube, which give instructional material for each of the 38 AP classes. These 30-50 minute videos could be used when reviewing material and keeping up-to-date on lessons taught throughout the school year. The videos also offer two full timed exams and a review for each of them.
The College Board has further provided several resources on their website such as unit reviews and practice questions that many teachers had already assigned to their students. Overall, CollegeBoard has a wide variety of options for studying before AP exams, as well as providing resources that allow an individual to practice with example questions similar to those on their exam.
One strategy that students could also use is samples from previous AP exams, finding the parts of the exam that are still in use this year and studying the type of examples that might be given. Teachers also served as a guide, having been through the process of AP exams in previous years. Contacting a teacher is a way students could have cleared up any issues or worries they had before the exam.
“I’ve been using CollegeBoard a lot, using the reviews and especially the past test examples to review my material and become familiar with the exam,” junior Mia Engelbart said.
Something that may not always be considered is getting a good night’s rest before the exam. Sleeping 8-10 hours, getting up early and having a healthy breakfast would all be useful ideas to prepare for the exams.
For those who missed the initial exam, there will be makeups for each class held from June 1st to June 5th.