2021 AP Exams during COVID


Conor McArdle

Peddie Student is seen participating in online class from the Walter Annenberg Library.

Zoe Chao '23, Junior Co-Editor-in-Chief

Students are finding they have new reasons to dread the Advanced Placement exam season this year. For 2021, the College Board decided to offer both in-person and online exams (with some exceptions in the language department), retaining the full curriculum and three-hour length. In the midst of COVID-19, students not only have to overcome the regular difficulty of the exams, but they have also had to find a way to learn everything in a pandemic-ruled world.

Despite having to learn the entire year’s curriculum in fewer classes, many students are in awe of Peddie’s academic support. Since everyone had to adapt to a pandemic situation, students and teachers alike put extra effort into preparing for this year’s exams. Luckily, at the beginning of the year, Peddie decided to conduct AP classes as if the entire curriculum would be on the exam … I have been very fortunate to have great teachers that aid students in every step when preparing for the AP,” said Amber Wang ’22. 

For students enrolled in language APs, taking the paper test is required with no online format available. However, for many other subjects, students at different schools have the ability to choose which format they prefer, increasing the accessibility of these exams. There are three possible formats: in-person digital, in-person on paper, and remote digital. “I appreciate the fact that the College Board is offering in-person and online exams this year given the differences in everyone’s preferences and situation,” said Wang. Many students also prefer the online format. “For the FRQs (Free Response Questions), it’s much faster to write our answers online. For me, it’s easier to edit and organize the answers,” said Jenna Kim 23.

For international students, taking the AP exams this year is difficult. First of all, because many exams only have the paper option, many students overseas have to find different schools at which to take the exam. Since many schools tightened their rules because of COVID-19, some students are left unable to take the tests they have been studying for all year. Another challenge is the time zone difference which will require many students to stay up into the night in order to take the three-hour-long exams. “Time difference is the biggest challenge for me … Some of the exams I’ll be taking will start at 4 p.m., while that’s 4 a.m. my time. So I will have to adjust my sleep schedule several days prior to the exams to make sure that I’ll be functioning and alert at midnight,” said Mike Yan ’23. 

Additionally, Kim, who just returned to campus, has to change her preferred exam format all of a sudden. “I was confused at first because it wasn’t clear how international students were supposed to take the exam. When I got back to campus, I heard from my bio teacher that people on campus do not have a choice on whether to take it online or on paper … I actually wanted to take it online since all our unit tests and quizzes were taken online for the whole year. Now we’re suddenly told to take the most important exam on paper,” said Kim. Her frustration is echoed by many other students who have been preparing for one particular format.  

Taking AP exams this year has added additional stress for international and on-campus students. However, Peddie’s support has made it a lot easier for most students, preparing them for many possible scenarios.