Beginning next week, students at Cincinnati Country Day School and around the world will sit down to take AP exams in once unimaginable conditions—at home, alone, on the computer, with open textbooks and notes in front of them. By May 26, the AP Program has promised, AP teachers across the country will be able to read the actual exam answers each of their students wrote, and figure that work into end-of-year grades in their courses, if they wish. Each of these steps represents a revolution for the AP Program, and some of the changes may well be retained in future years.
The exams are briefer and less complex than traditional APs. Most are 45 minutes compared to the traditional three hours, and multiple-choice questions have been eliminated along with any points awarded for reporting facts. Most importantly, the exams will be taken at exactly the same moment all around the world.
The AP Program has instituted exam security measures, the details of which it is deliberately leaving vague. These include using plagiarism-detection software and post-administration analytics, along with promises to monitor social media and discussion sites where it may "post content designed to confuse and deter those who attempt to cheat." In addition to traditional penalties for cheating on a College Board test—blocking the student from taking the test or cancelling the test score after the fact—the AP Program has promised this year to report to a student's high school or college any confirmed attempts to cheat.
All of it is a grand experiment many AP teachers are glad to see the program undertake: "The AP Program has done a remarkable job of giving students a chance to show what they know in a way that is fair," Cincinnati Country Day AP Chemistry teacher Paula Butler said.
"An unexpected boon for students is a bank of interactive video lectures now available on the AP program web sites that students can use to review and study a year's worth of curriculum. The video lectures will remain up next year, Butler said. "It's a definite positive outcome from an unfortunate situation."
-Sarah Beyreis, CCDS Director of College Counseling and External Opportunities