AP Test Presents Problems for Students


This week social media lit up with issues students were having with Advanced Placement tests they were taking online.

AP testing is a fee-based test that is taken by students to receive credit for their AP classes. Normally the tests are given in a secure area and are proctored by education staff. This year, due to COVID-19, the tests were administered online. AP testing for many students is a stressful time and remote learning has added to that stress. Factor in not only new online testing but, for many students, online issues that gave a variety of prompts stating students had run out of time when they had not and that their submission was not accepted – all without any explanation except the students could take the test again in June.

CVW received numerous inquiries regarding the AP testing trouble. We found that it was not just a Glendale Unified School District issue but a nationwide problem. Administrators at the district and high schools were attempting to reach the College Board, which conducts the test, without any luck. They were able to leave messages but were not able to reach a person to answer their questions.

When reached by CVW, via email, the response from the College Board was a series of emails explaining how many tests were given – to over a million students – and a series of Twitter threads that had parents, students and teachers complaining about the system and responses from Trevor Packer, senior vice president of advance placement and instruction at the College Board.

Over and over again students, parents and teachers expressed issues like not receiving email confirmations, students taking a pretest to make certain everything worked only to find out the real test didn’t work and many students receiving prompts telling them to reschedule their test for June.

The explanations from the College Board included that the students had incorrect or outdated web browsers or had simply made mistakes.

“To be clear: No system went down; the administration platform never came close to crashing,” according to an email answer from the College Board spokesperson Jerome White.

Whatever the issue, according to the College Board, it was not them that had a problem – even when teachers wondered why, after their students submitted their tests successfully, they received an email stating they needed to schedule to retake the test.

“When we embarked on the effort to offer AP Exams online, we created tools to help guide users through this new experience,” read a statement from the College Board. “After the first few days of testing, our data show the vast majority of students successfully completed their exams, with less than 1% unable to submit their responses. We share the deep disappointment of students who were unable to complete their exam – whether for technical issues or other reasons. We’re working to understand these students’ unique circumstances in advance of the June makeup exams. Any student who encountered an issue during their exam will be able to retest.”

Despite students, parents and teachers expressing similar problems it looks like many will have to take the test again in June.