Is CollegeBoard making the worst mistake possible with AP exams?


Photo by Benjamin Shoykhet

With upcoming AP exams, AP English Language teacher Daniel Pecoraro stays cool under pressure. Pecoraro teaches his students how to write a synthesis essay effectively in the classroom, to score as high as possible on the exam. Pecoraro said, “We do a lot of handwriting, because students have to practice their dexterity.”

TL:WR (Too Long: Won’t Read)

AP Coordinator Joseph Mamana III said that despite differences this year, AP exams will remain in-person for Wootton, at no detriment to performance. To better study for your tests, remember to follow your teacher’s leads and practice in scheduled blocks of time.


Hand cramps, writer’s block, and all the pains of essay writing are back this year, with the return of in-person AP exams. This year’s exams will be administered May 2-6, and May 9-13, at locations dependent on which exam is being taken, by CollegeBoard. 

CollegeBoard introduced the option to host an online exam experience, on a per-school basis, upon request. This school decided to engage in only in-person exams. AP coordinator Joseph. Mamana III said, “I’ve been here for eight years and I’ve never done a virtual exam.”

Mamana said that CollegeBoard is doing their best to equalize the playing field between physical and virtual. The virtual exams will have more difficult questions, ones that can’t be answered by simply searching on Google. Increased difficulty will compensate for faster answering times and cheating options present in virtual exams. “To be honest, from what CollegeBoard is saying, I don’t think there is an advantage one way or another,” Mamana said.

The decision to host exams in person here was based on the principle that engagement is better when learning and testing onsite. Due to having classes physically, Mamana said that having the exams physically would better match what has been done in class. With the opportunity to go in for help, students can get the support needed. Mamana said, “If we’re going to set students up for in person, I think there is a lot more opportunity for engagement during three areas, at lunch, at homeroom, and after school.”

As preparation for these behemoths of exams is rapidly approaching, Mamana has you covered there too. In order to teach an AP class, each teacher must be approved by CollegeBoard. “Our AP teachers are phenomenal,” Mamana said.

Teachers also get to see the percentage of questions in each area, for each AP exam. That said, it’s crucial to follow your teachers’ instructions on where to focus your studying. “Just follow your teachers’ lead,” Mamana said.

AP English Language and Composition teacher Daniel Pecoraro is a prime example of this, with a strong grip on how to prepare students. He knows that on the AP exam, coherency coupled with time management is key. In his class, “We do a lot of handwriting because students have to practice their dexterity,” Pecoraro said.

From the student’s perspective, junior Andrew Sill provided his (lack of) strategy for studying for these exams. Sill said that although he is stressed about the upcoming exams, he is not studying. Procrastination can be destructive to your performance on the exams, so it is important to begin studying a month or two before the exam. Even 30 minutes a day is enough to raise your score drastically.

AP exams this year may seem daunting, but set your worries aside because your teachers will guide you through. By setting scheduled study times, studying with friends, and listening to what your teachers advise, the exam will be less of a challenge than without the preparation.