AP exams scheduled for in-person return


Photo by Hannah Rah

Senior Parth Mishra studies in AP Statistics class in preparation for the exam.

Last year, as a result of safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, MCPS provided Advanced Placement (AP) exams in an at-home digital format. This year, with the return of in-person school, the AP exams are tentatively scheduled to return to a pencil-and-paper format. 

The College Board has announced that it plans to administer the 2022 AP exams in person. The tests are scheduled across two weeks in May, beginning on May 2 and ending on May 13. MCPS appears to be planning to follow the College Board’s guidelines in terms of exam format. “[The AP exams] are in person. There are no online exams as of now. Right now, everyone nationally is doing it in person,” Assistant Principal Joseph Mamana said. 

Safety measures intended to create a secure testing experience for students will be in place. The College Board’s AP exam seating policy required test-takers to be placed a minimum of five feet apart even before the pandemic in an effort to establish exam security. While this rule continues to be in effect, the College Board has acknowledged the potential need for additional distancing measures this year. According to the College Board website, “In the event that social distancing requirements need to be in place in 2022, schools may seat students as far apart as needed above the minimum required five feet.”

To address safety concerns surrounding the in-person exam format, the College Board has also made an exception to its pre-pandemic ban on the use of partitions in the testing room. According to the College Board website, “Typically, the use of partitions is prohibited. However, clear partitions may be used as a safety measure if necessary.”

These plans for in-person exams nationwide may not be set in stone due to the continuing presence of COVID-19. The pandemic’s unpredictable nature makes school closures a possibility that could potentially continue into the spring of 2022. According to the College Board website, the organization will “continue to monitor global, national and local health conditions, putting the health and safety of students first, and if there are widespread school closures in spring 2022, we’ll provide options similar to those offered in 2021.” 

This uncertainty surrounding AP exams has been exacerbated by the emergence of the Omicron variant. “With the new variant coming out, they might say we need to go virtual, but as of right now, there is no virtual option,” Mamana said. 

In the situation that the AP exams are administered in person in 2022, pre-pandemic testing procedures are expected to resume. Except for the additional safety precautions that will be in place, Mamana believes this year could mark the return of normalcy with AP exams. For instance, in previous years, the tests have been administered at the Universities at Shady Grove, an aspect that will likely return this year. “Everything is pretty much the same this year as everything before the pandemic,” Mamana said.

The prospect of a return to normality in the test-taking experience has been met with positive feedback from students. “It is easier to cheat online so I’d rather have [the AP exams] in person,” junior Reihen Walsh said.

Other students said they felt positively about their online test-taking experience last year and prefer the virtual format to a return of in-person exams. “I actually prefer online AP exams because it’s more convenient to take them at home. For the free response questions, it’s easier to type because writing by hand is more time consuming,” senior Sasha Annabel said.