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AP Exams 2021: Online Or On Campus?

Students internationally are doing their best to prepare for the current 2021 AP Exams. Unlike last year, College Board has offered test-takers a choice between digital and paper exams. For many Christian Brothers students, determining how to take this critical exam has been a difficult decision. A few of my own teachers have recommended the […]

Students internationally are doing their best to prepare for the current 2021 AP Exams. Unlike last year, College Board has offered test-takers a choice between digital and paper exams. For many Christian Brothers students, determining how to take this critical exam has been a difficult decision.

A few of my own teachers have recommended the in person exam as it offers some advantages such as a distraction free environment and the ability to double-check answers. Unfortunately, for online test-takers, this option will not be available in order to reduce cheating at home. 

But for the essay and short answer sections, typing may be a timesaver for many. After an entire year of virtual learning, it may be more efficient to use a keyboard in lieu of pencil and paper. This serves as, what I believe to be, the greatest advantage of the online exam.

CB Director of Counseling and AP Cooridnator Mrs. Melissa McClellan agrees, saying “those who tend to get distracted may prefer being able to do the test at home where they can be in their own space versus a big room full of other [students].”

She expects that there will not be any leniency with grading this year as more schools have fully adapted to online learning, and some going with fill time hybrid learning like CB. However, for those taking their exams in person throughout the following weeks, returning to an in-person exam may become an issue as essays will take significantly longer to draft and revise on paper. Kiana Sueyoshi (‘22) expects some difficulty in this area.

“There’s no copy and paste, so if you wanted to reorder your thoughts, you would have to rewrite all of them,” she says.

Despite increased campus learning this semester, the majority of students continue to spend most of their day typing their assignments online. Whether they use Notability, Pages, or Google Docs, typing has taken precedence.

“Given that many people have been using digital documents, it’s probably accurate to assume that a lot of people, myself included, are out of practice with handwriting” Kiana adds.

Time management plays a major role in how effectively students are able to complete the exam and earn a passing score. For those taking writing-based assessments, ample time spent reviewing notes and study guides is especially crucial to saving time.

Jasmine Ohki (’22) has studied tirelessly the last few weeks in preparation for these exams, somehow managing a balance between her busy schedule and work, sports, and school. Recently, she even found herself reviewing material between volleyball games. “I wrote a few pages of history notes between breaks during my tournament,” she says. “I gave it to my mom to hold, just to find out she lost it.”

I understood exactly how Jasmine must have felt as the pressure to earn a passing grade on the AP exams is overwhelming. Unlike the typical final exams given at CB, the College Board tests determine whether students will be offered college credit for completing the offered courses.

Luckily, with the help of Crash Course videos and in-person support from her teachers, Jasmine now feels better prepared to take on her exams. For our graduating seniors, these scores are critical for saving time and tuition throughout college.

Chloe Decker (‘21) is one of many CB students who have made the decision not to return to campus during the pandemic. Although she will be taking the AP exams online, Chloe still takes the time to practice her handwriting skills before going off to university college. 

“What I tried to do was not to only type on a computer because I knew if I did that, writing would become an issue for my hand,” she explained.

Chloe takes math notes and sometimes writes out entire essays on paper to keep her muscle memory refreshed. Studying for three different AP exams, she recognizes that there is a lot of independent work left before graduation, memorizing what is required for each class.

“I want to be able to make my college experience as easy as possible for me,” Chloe says. “I desire to take these tests and pass them so I can have more college credit for my future years at Berkeley.”

Seemingly unfazed by nagging senioritis, Chloe’s optimistic and hardworking mindset is inspirational for CB’s rising juniors and seniors. Taking college-level classes during high school is hard, but to do it with a smile is even harder.

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