Complications, changes arise in AP online exams

Keira Coleman, Special to the Roar

When College Board announced last month it would conduct Advanced Placement exams online, many questioned how well the solution would work. In a report issued after the first week of exams, the organization stated that 2.186 million students had taken exams with only 1 percent encountering problems. This means that 21,860 students across the nation were negatively affected.

Jameson Isom (11) was one of them.

“After completing the exam and attaching my files, I was prompted with the last step of submitting,” Isom said. “When I clicked the button, it didn’t seem to work, even though everything else on the page was [working]. After spending a minute testing everything on the page, I thought it could be my mouse pad. After hooking up the gaming mouse from my room, I tried to resubmit again but still no luck. Now, I have to retain all the knowledge I’ve learned until [retakes in June].”

Mohammad Abdullah (11) and Charlie Pavlick (10) said that they encountered technology problems during their exams.

“I was killing this test after studying so hard for it,” Abdullah said. “I made sure to stop and take pictures with exactly five minutes left. Little did I know, my WiFi was about to do me wrong. I take pictures of my answers, upload them to my Google Drive, and then try to open Google Drive to retrieve them. Instead, all I see is the stupid no internet dinosaur. I’ve never hated that dinosaur until that moment.” 

Adbdullah said he tried resetting his router and then continued to no avail.

“No luck,” he said. “My time ended, and my test was ruined.”

Pavlick told a similar story. 

“When I had four minutes left on the exam [I got a notification] that had said my internet went out on Google Docs,” he said. “Five minutes after the exam had ended, my internet went back up. After the test, I had to fill out a retake [request] that would happen June 2.”

In a second report, College Board announced that students who face a technical issue during the second week of exams will now be able to email their answers in a special format. This new change, though, will not apply to students who faced similar problems during the first week. 

Sasha Karlsson (11), who experienced problems during the first week of exams, said she is upset the new solution wasn’t available sooner. 

“I’m frustrated about the whole situation,” Karlsson said. “It’s annoying that I was almost done with the class but now have to wait until June to finish it. I’m also mad that solutions are arising after I already had problems on my exam. I guess it’s a little unfair to blame [College Board], though, since they’re new to this online testing thing, too. I just wish that they had made the emailing option a possibility from the beginning. At least it’s a choice now so that hopefully people won’t have to go through the same thing as me.”

Chase Bost (11) said he is upset that this change doesn’t directly help him.

“I’m relieved that [College Board] created an option for those who will have issues, but I don’t like how they have nothing for those who errored out already,” Bost said. “I’m not happy at all about retaking the exam in June. I’m too worried about retaining information and having to stress for another two weeks.”

School testing coordinator Mike Drake said he is aware of the various issues students are facing on their exams and is happy College Board created a way to help. 

“I was glad that they were undertaking such a monumental shift in the manner of administering the test in order to accommodate the current situation created by [COVID-19] crisis,” Drake said. “The most common [issue] that I have heard of is students having a problem with submitting responses. We also have a few students who did not correctly label their responses with their initials and AP numbers. I think [College Board] is responding [well] to the submission problems students have had during the first week of testing. I [am] glad that they offered an alternate way to submit that might help alleviate the problem.