ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Schools all over the nation are closed down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn't mean class is dismissed. It does, however, change things, including the way testing will be administered for advanced placement students here in Alaska.
Instead of a grueling three-hour examination with multiple choice questions and multiple essays to write things are being condensed.
"This year they will be taking a 45 minutes at home exam regardless of the content area... Essentially everything is super-condensed all the multiple-choice components have been taken out of the picture and they will be doing it on a screen for the first time. So those are some of the primary differences," says Valerie Baalerud, AP coordinator for the Anchorage School District.
Less testing may sound like a win for those who will be taking the exams, but students seem to have differing opinions about the effect the new format will have.
Eagle River high school sophomore Gavin Taylor sees it as a plus.
"Cutting down to a fraction of that is a little easier for me rather than maybe someone who has been studying for a three-hour-long exam, so there's definitely pitfalls but it's a little easier."
Meanwhile, school valedictorian Devin Higgins has some concerns.
"I think the AP test is probably gonna be a little harder for people to pass or at least get really good scores on since it's shorter and there's only one thing you have to do for each test. It kind of makes it harder because if it's like a question that includes concepts they aren't familiar with you don't have much to fall back on if you screw it up."
Easier, harder, that may depend on one's point of view and study habits.
The important news is that these tests are going forward and these students will have an opportunity to earn some college credit.
"I think that what they did was to kind of survey students around the nation and say, is this something you still want to go ahead with and overwhelmingly students and teachers said yes you know we worked all year we want to have the opportunity to take those exams to demonstrate proficiency to colleges and to potentially earn college credit," says Ms. Baalerud.
Students still have a bit more time to study, testing begins May 11th and will run for about two weeks as each subject is covered. Though these will be shortened exams Ms. Baalerud says that the grand majority of colleges and universities will still count them for the same amount of credit as the traditional longer AP tests. So while it will be augmented, it won't be something that students miss out on, making it a rarity for high school kids in the year 2020.
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