An Open Letter to The College Board About Advanced Placement (AP) Tests

March 26, 2020

Dear The College Board, David Coleman, CEO College Board & Trevor Packer, Senior VP of Advanced Placement & Instruction:

While not diminishing the dilemma of how to continue the AP program and administer AP exams in the midst of the current global pandemic, students’ frustrations about reducing the exams to 45 minutes from 3 hours, are palpable. I implore you, as you continue redrafting the AP exams before April 3, to consider the following concerns to craft a more equitable solution, which also maintains the integrity of the AP program.

Students are concerned about being fairly assessed. Having completed two-thirds of a school year, spending many hours reading textbooks, completing practice Free Response Questions (FRQ’s), learning the rubric for essays, memorizing hundreds of concepts, plus managing anxieties about earning an ‘A’ to be more competitive for college admissions, how can the totality of students’ efforts be comprehensively assessed with the truncated exam format?

Many students worry that colleges will not award credits for the Spring 2020 AP exam scores, wondering how a 45 minute test equals the rigor of the original 3 hour exam. And, for next year, how will the AP Administrators and The College Board reason the need to take 3 hour AP tests in the subsequent years?

Additionally, students often share to their consternation, that their peers cheat, during normal circumstances, so worry that in the isolation of their own homes, what’s to stop a student from mounting “cheat sheets” out of sight of the camera? Given the increased probability that students may choose to cheat, how will the integrity of those who do not cheat be protected? 

Protecting students’ well-being, given the health risks of COVID-19, is complex. However, The College Board and AP Administrators must understand that AP’s weighted grades, as well as the potential college units from taking AP exams, are integral parts of students’ college admissions strategies. Thus, without considering students’ concerns and frustrations with the current proposal while developing the final exam formats, you risk alienating an entire generation. 


Jill Yoshikawa, EdM

Partner, Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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