Evaluating the Exams: What Stuyvesant Students Thought of Online APs

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Issue 16, Volume 110

By The News Department, The Features Department 

Cover Image

After completing modified online Advanced Placement (AP) tests, students react to and reflect on their experiences:

“I felt there were gaps in what I knew. [AP Biology] was the worst thing I expected. I opened the question and […] saw two graphs, and it already looked hard. I spent at least a week’s worth of time just going over glycolysis, the electron transport chain, photosynthesis and everything, and then, what do I get to sit on? Freaking stomach cancer cells and a pedigree about a protein pump. I got nothing about photosynthesis or cellular respiration.” —Olivia Zheng, freshman

“I think I was prepared—the whole quarantine thing means I had more time to study, and the AP world curriculum was a lot easier because there was only a DBQ. I don’t like reading stuff on a computer, but since it was only 45 minutes, it was fine.” —Eliza Knapp, sophomore

“I totally forgot about [my AP Chemistry exam] since we weren’t actually in school. I feel like I would have done more [to prepare] if it was a regular school year. [Be]cause [I just stayed] at home, I didn’t really stay on top of it. It was worse than actual normal tests because I have a really tiny apartment, and my parents were like walking around and doing stuff while I was trying to take the test.” —Naomi Naranjo, sophomore

“I took them for fun. AP Chemistry is my forte. Then I wanted to self-study AP Physics I and II, so I e-mailed [Assistant Principal of Organization] Dr. [Gary] Haber […] I took a waiver, and I got it signed by [Assistant Principal Chemistry, Physics, and Technology Scott] Thomas, and I gave it to Dr. Haber, and he let me take both APs. It was much easier [than the in-class material]!” —Alvi Khan, sophomore

“No bueno. The College Board didn’t receive one of my responses for AP Chemistry, so I’m retaking it. Of course, this was before they established the new e-mailing thing. I know it sucks, but honestly, I don’t blame the College Board too much.” —Kaitlyn Lee, junior

“I was not able to submit, which invalidated the [AP Chemistry] test, and I have to retake it in a couple weeks. So many people were unable to take the test, and since they can’t take the test at designated places, I think the College Board should have just canceled the tests. They shouldn’t have been administered at all. Definitely not online. Maybe just give everyone credit like [for the] Regents.” —Corey Kwan, sophomore

“The 30 minutes between signing in and actually starting the [AP European History] exam were terrible, and I think I was a lot more nervous about whether I would be able to properly turn in my response rather than figure out the question itself. The whole process came with a lot of uncertainty, especially as I had personally known people who were unable to submit their work for prior tests. However, the prompt itself seemed fair, and I certainly felt that [social studies teacher David] Hanna had adequately prepared us for writing in a time crunch.” —Daniela Maksin, sophomore

“I didn’t really feel prepared because I was preparing for something else, and this was a curveball that no one could have expected. The format of the [AP Human Geography] test put us at a disadvantage because the entire year we’ve been taking multiple choice exams, and we had two months to prepare for a free response question. It just felt like they were just making us fail. It didn’t feel good.” —Samantha Hua, freshman

“I loved the exam format because [t]hough your knowledge had to [be] spread across the curriculum, your essay or short response was focus[ed] on one specific topic. Obviously, it’s a condensed version, but the essays for AP U.S. History and AP English Language and Composition concluded your skills for the curriculum […] and brought everything you had learned together. For the AP Physics 1 exam, it was interesting because your answers were always about the reasoning instead of finding an end answer.” —Aki Yamaguchi, junior

“I’m a transfer student. I took Chemistry in freshman year at QHSS [Queens High School for the Sciences], so I qualified for AP Physics. I had to self-study quite a bit. Otherwise, I’d say my teacher did more than enough to help me prepare for the exam. The exam format was fair—if it had been any easier it probably wouldn’t have accessed the effort and knowledge of the students who had spent their time preparing for the course.” —Rayyan Bhuiyan, sophomore

“I thought [the test format] worked for AP Chemistry […] the format of complicated but relatively short responses was good because [the questions] covered a lot of ground for a 45-minute test. I thought it was really dumb for [the] AP World [History exam] to have one question because it was very specific and very technical. There was only one chance; you had to kind of know the information. If you didn’t know it, it was just kind of over.” —Gavin McGinley, sophomore

“The [AP Environmental Science] exam format is creative but is in need of improvement. Putting a hasty time limit is enough to discourage a lot of cheating, but it gives way for a ton of technical problems for students. The exam should definitely give more time, especially since some forms are harder than others. The test was definitely very easy to do and not very time consuming though.” —Hansen He, freshman

"For AP Chemistry, it was way more difficult than the past exams of the same length. There were many different forms, and some were way more difficult and some way easier which isn't fair. The College Board will statistically make sure the difficulty is the same, but I don't really believe that. It was hard, and I messed up. There definitely was not enough time." —Amanda Zhong, sophomore

“Personally, online APs have been a disappointment. The College Board is really promoting an environment of stress. They are actively trying to make people cheat in a ridiculous fashion […] what pisses me is that anything I do could be considered ‘cheating’ as their standards are really broad. It's just been a mess.” —Carlos Hernandez, junior

“[It was] like any other test. [The AP Computer Science A and AP Physics I were] really boring [and had] stuff that I already learned. [I didn’t have any technical issues] besides my malfunctioned brain.” Winson Peter Zhang, junior

“It honestly went off without a hitch for me because I did the demo beforehand. I was worried that I would have trouble submitting, so I made sure I had adequate practice going into the test. Some people who didn’t do the demo had problems submitting their file during the actual test.” —Maxwell Zen, sophomore

“Online AP examinations have been pretty fair, surprisingly. I especially liked the 30-minute wait [at] the beginning of the exam. It gives [me] time to think and prepare mentally.” —Vincent Jiang, junior

“While it requires less intensive studying, taking the test online felt slightly more stressful than taking the test in person. Also, I miss testing in a huge room full of other students where we all have the same thing in mind, which is to get the AP over with.” —Sarah Leung, senior

“My experience was great [in AP Biology]. I wasn’t tested on every unit, and it was fairly easy. Personally, I found my topics extremely straightforward because I was well prepared. I think the amount of time I received was sufficient. I had about seven minutes left after each question. The exam format was pretty straightforward in my opinion. I like[d] that it was in a ‘diagram, question’ format. ” —Marilyn Shi, freshman

“I was so stressed before it; you don’t even understand. I was actually shaking the whole morning and then when I was taking it. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, except I was worried about the time limit.” —Sasha Burshteyn, sophomore

“The online exams were pretty fair in terms of difficulty but the content covered wasn't at all representative of what we'd done all year long. I don't really feel like this test was a good depiction of what we learned throughout the year—I personally feel that the College Board should have otherwise canceled exams, because these one or two question tests weren't very effective.” —Eric Chen, senior

“I felt pretty prepared [for AP Biology]. It wasn’t exactly easy, but […] I had done a decent amount of practice leading up, so I was used to the format and had learned to move quickly through the exam […] the most difficult part about having an online test is staying focused. For me, it’s much easier to stay ‘in the zone’ when you have a physical copy of the test.” —Sophia Wan-Brodsky, freshman

“Overall, the tests were okay. Though the format isn't perfect and I feel [it] doesn't accurately gauge how much a student has learned, given the circumstances, I understand some of the decisions. For me, the most time restricted test was the [AP U.S. History] one, since in the 45 minutes it's hard to reread what you've written [and] make it flow well, especially when you have less documents to work with and choose from.” —Francesco Siniscalco, junior

“For AP Chemistry, [chemistry teacher Michael] Orlando made the students prepare presentations for each unit, so we basically taught the entire class each unit to prepare. I felt that it was interesting he created a project where we taught the class, so we were reviewing together.” —Evelyn Zheng, sophomore

“Online APs have been kind of crazy since all of our classes and homework assignments have been material we learned in the beginning of the year. However, my teacher gave us a bunch of links to study resources, which were very helpful in preparing for the AP Exam.” —Jessica Eng, sophomore

“The AP Physics 1 exam format made sense, and I actually liked that it was conceptual. As for the AP U.S. History exam, there was way too little time. I still finished my DBQ, but I felt pressed for time for the entirety of the 45 min[utes].” —Mia Yan, junior

“The overall process of the exam was fine; the website was well-guided, and I had no problems with the submission. But the fact that I had six months of learning assessed with only one to two questions is quite frustrating.” —Lucio Yang, senior

“I took AP Environmental Science. I felt prepared for the test, but I felt like I could’ve prepared more. It wasn’t the teacher’s fault—it was just that we weren’t at school.” —Giridhar Bonu, freshman

“I liked how the format of the exam allowed us to show the graders what we learned, but I was worried that condensing a year’s worth of material into two questions would affect the likelihood of someone getting a good grade.” —Emma Sudo, freshman

“Very successful in terms of uploading and submission. In terms of actual AP content, not so much. That timer at the bottom of the screen is truly nerve-racking.” —Daniel Ye, junior

“They’ve been quite convenient because instead of having to sit for a multiple hour exam, I just have to write for 50 minutes. However, it’s extremely high pressure for the same reason: the entire test is based off of one or two responses.” —Sasha Socolow, sophomore

“It was really stressful waiting for the test to begin after signing in. The test itself wasn’t too hard, but they just had a lot of parts. It was kinda painful, but it was over quickly, so that was nice. ” ––Victoria Yu, junior

“Pretty bad—my AP Chemistry answers did NOT submit, and I have to retake, but my AP World History answers submitted super easily. I just don’t agree with how the College Board went about with handling the APs.” —Jenna Mackenroth, sophomore

“They were pretty good for me, and I thought that the actual material on them was fair, but it was really stressful to submit them, and I almost didn’t for AP Chemistry. Also, the fact students weren’t able to submit and that the server failed is just ridiculous and beyond me how the College Board couldn’t get their website to work.” ––Lucinda Bryce, sophomore

“I didn't have any major problems—all of my answers were submitted. While I liked that there were [fewer] topics, I felt that it was unfair to just have one to two questions.” ––Angelina Chang, junior

“I [took] AP Human Geography. I was well-prepared for the exam and felt that I would do well before the exam, as I had taken many practice tests, albeit only with multiple choice and done well. In addition, I had studied my notes thoroughly. I did not like the exam format as there was very little opportunity to earn more points, but I do think it was the best solution considering the situation as they cannot put too long of a test and it is open book.” —Hailey Seltzer, freshman

“I thought that the questions were posed weirdly, like the way that they were stated, but other than that the format was okay. Also, I thought that the FRQs was a little unfair to zoom in on a specific topic, which dictates the whole AP exam score.” —Anonymous freshman

“I don’t know if this holds true for the kids in the first week, but the servers ran pretty smoothly, and I didn’t run into any errors with submitting and stuff.” —Tim Mei, freshman