Valencia High School Students Prepare for Online and In-Person AP Examinations

By: Vivian Wang

PLACENTIA, CA – As the end of the school year rapidly approaches, many students have started their test preparation for the Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Students who elect to take AP classes choose to do so for a variety of reasons, ranging from college credit to academic rigor for college applications. Traditionally, AP exams in the years prior to 2020 were offered in an in-person setting to ensure test security and mitigate possibilities for cheating; however, the testing procedure changed at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

Since the pandemic caused schools in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) to transition to remote learning in early 2020, the AP exams were also modified so that students could complete their AP exams from the safety of their homes. During the 2020 AP testing season, students were allowed to navigate throughout the questions so that they could revisit a question, if necessary. Additionally, official AP Live Review Sessions were hosted on YouTube so that students could receive additional support and revisit on-demand lectures.

This year’s AP testing shares many similarities when compared to the 2020 AP testing season. For instance, students are still testing during the May and June timeframe. The 2021 AP testing season consists of three different testing windows. Administration 1 is from May 3 to May 17, Administration 2 is from May 18 to May 28, and Administration 3 is from June 1 to 11. Unlike last year’s AP testing setup, this year’s AP testing consists of a mix of in-person and online examinations. Administration 1 consists solely of in-school examinations, while Administration 2 and 3 include both at-home and in-school examinations.

Students still have the option to test from the safety of their homes, with the exception of a few exams. According to the College Board’s AP Exam Guidelines for 2021, exams that must be proctored in an in-person setting include French Language, German Language, Italian Language, Spanish Language, Latin, Chinese Language, Japanese Language, and Music Theory. The College Board further elaborates that since students can have access to online translation tools in an at-home setting, the AP exams would not be an accurate representation of the students’ performance and knowledge.

For this year’s 2021 AP exams, students have also been notified that they may cancel their exams without a financial penalty. The College Board has offered this option to students who feel that they will not be able to perform as well as they hope to in an online or in-person setting. They are also offering this option so that students who have to take an in-person exam — such as a language AP exam or music theory exam — can cancel their test at no cost. In a notice sent out from Mr. Will Truong on April 26, Valencia AP students can cancel their AP exams for a full refund.

This year’s AP testing procedures vary from last year’s testing procedures because students who are taking the online exam will not be able to navigate through the exam. This rule means that once a student completes a question in the exam, they cannot revisit the specific question after they move on to the next question. In their 2021 AP exams guidebook, the College Board explains that this rule will reduce the chances of cheating.