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The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

Embracing digital AP exams

Sophomore Justin Heller reads the College Board website on digital AP exams. Heller took AP Computer Science his freshman year and the exam was digital. This year he is taking AP Government and Politics and the exam is on paper. “I think that digital exams are a lot easier and less work,” Heller said.
Photo by Siena McCarthy
Sophomore Justin Heller reads the College Board website on digital AP exams. Heller took AP Computer Science his freshman year and the exam was digital. This year he is taking AP Government and Politics and the exam is on paper. “I think that digital exams are a lot easier and less work,” Heller said.

A student taking AP World History is a month away from the AP exam and his class is preparing with tests that look like the exam does. The AP World History exam is made up of 55 multiple-choice questions, three short answer questions, one document-based question and one long essay. Throughout the year, the student and his classmates have been handwriting practice versions of these essays. Historically, the exam has been on paper, except this year it is different. The exam is now completely digital. The student recalls the extensive essays they have handwritten in the past exams, feeling like their hand was going to fall off. He thinks he maybe could have gotten a higher score and would not have been exhausted during the exam if it had been digital. This student has also been using strategies taught in school for his past two AP exams for time management. With the exam becoming digital, those strategies completely change. There’s no flipping through pages, filling in scantrons, or messily writing essays anymore.

Digital AP exams offer preparation for more digital exams and tests, and depending on the student, give them a chance at a higher score and require less time management.

This year the College Board is offering schools eight different APs with the option of a digital exam. Schools can choose between offering these exams completely digital, completely on paper or a combination. The College Board also offers practice digital tests to help students get a feel of what their exams will look like. AP coordinators work with schools to determine the school’s technical readiness. Students may think that digital AP exams create higher scores. “At the end of my essays in the AP Government and Politics exam, my hand hurt from writing and I knew I could have written my last essay better if I wasn’t so tired. I think if the exams were digital I could have performed better,” sophomore Addison Purvis said.

One issue with paper exams is that they are not disability friendly. Digital exams are accommodation-friendly. Digital exams can offer text-to-speech and other tools to ensure every student has an equal opportunity to earn a high score. However, students might have trouble with digital exams, especially if they have taken paper exams in the past. “Many students don’t do as well on a computer rather than a paper test. There should be some sort of option for which version they would prefer to take,” social studies teacher Kraig Bauer said.

Digital AP exams are proctored and administered on the same schedule as paper exams. Students can go back to certain questions or sections in digital APs the same way they can in paper exams. Schools are given a wide range of resources to help prepare their students for the new exam. “As long as schools prepare students for digital AP exams, then I think they are overall beneficial to students,” sophomore Danielle Rubin said.

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