AP courses change to meet the times

Christopher Doan, Reporter

Upon reflection, the 2020 AP experience is one of debate among both teachers and students. Each has their own views on the virtual AP course’s effectiveness.

The College Board’s Advanced Placement courses offer college credit to students that pass the associated exams. However, they were drastically altered in the spring of 2020 to accommodate for the pandemic. As a result, students taking it may have received unsatisfactory results due to the exam’s alteration or even the virtual learning. Although some may be unsuccessful on the exam, others found their virtual AP experience to be relaxing.

On reflecting on his own experience of taking AP courses such as AP Chemistry and AP US Government in his junior year, senior Ben Pable maintains a positive outlook on the virtual situation. Regarding the exams, Pable said, “Although the time was short and the exams were stressful, being at home felt relaxing. You also had access to notes and textbooks. Even with access to resources, the exam still tests your understanding of the concept. I really liked going virtual, and I feel that going virtual was easier than being in person.”

Senior Tyler Michel, who has taken similar AP classes as Pable, summarized his opinions about the AP exams as being determined by the effectiveness of virtual teaching, which is situational. He said, “It depends on the subject. You need to be in-person to truly understand some subjects like math while other subjects don’t require you to be in-person to understand them easily.”

Many teachers understand both the positives and negatives of the virtual teaching and learning of college-level classes. AP Chemistry and AP Physics teacher Louise Meyer said, “Virtually, we were much more limited in what we could accomplish. Not being able to see my student’s faces limited how I could gauge learning. Some students felt more comfortable participating virtually, but for the majority of students, there was a decline overall in participation.” Students may have felt too comfortable virtually, and with a declining participation in their studies, their AP exams may have left them unsatisfied with the results.

The virtual AP experience has shown to have both strengths and shortcomings. However, students and teachers, both of which have already experienced virtual AP courses, will be more prepared than ever to overcome the flaws of future virtual AP courses and in general all classes.