New regulations introduced in AP and SAT tests

Betsy Jarsoick, staff writer

Starting in spring 2023, CollegeBoard, the organization that provides Advanced Placement (AP) and SAT testing, will offer in-school, digital AP testing, and will do the same for SAT tests in the spring of 2024. However, South will continue administering AP and SAT tests on paper for the current academic year, Cameron Muir, Associate Principal for Curriculum and Instruction, said.

Before the pandemic, most AP tests were administered only on paper, except for AP Music Theory and certain foreign language tests, Muir said. After digital testing due to the pandemic and the 2022 pilot program in selected schools, CollegeBoard is introducing digital tests in seven subjects: AP Computer Science Principles, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP European History, AP Seminar, AP U.S. History, and AP World History: Modern, Muir added. 

“Going digital means that schools, districts, and states will have more flexibility for where, when, and how often they administer the SAT,” CollegeBoard’s website stated. 

The online tests will be full-length, just as paper tests are, and administered through a specialized testing app, though CollegeBoard’s website stated that they will not be publishing specific information until early 2023. Schools must indicate to CollegeBoard whether they are taking the digital or printed version, it included. South is opting to take the SATs digitally starting 2024, and will remain on paper for AP exams, Muir explained.

“[Digital testing] is not available for all the tests,” Muir said, “So [if South [opts] to do digital testing] some students would be going back and forth [between digital and paper exams] if they’re in multiple AP classes, which many of our students are.”

Muir also mentioned the possibility of technological issues, referencing past problems when certain state standardized testing organizations (not affiliated with CollegeBoard) switched to digital testing.

“Considering the newness of [this change as well as South’s capacity] of 3,000 students, [the administration wants] see what happens in other schools so that we can implement [the new changes] in a way that would be good for all students,” Muir said. 

History Teacher Ben Hussman, who has taught AP classes at South for over 25 years, expressed doubts about the policy change. Though CollegeBoard stated that typing essays would increase speed and ease of writing, Hussman questions whether the ability to easily edit what has been written would speed students up or slow them down. He added that digital testing may alter the ability of students to annotate test questions and passages.

“I think it would be wise for the school to wait a couple of years to see how students feel about online testing, and what the data might show about scoring,” Hussman said.

As for SAT testing, CollegeBoard took a more universal approach: moving PSAT tests online in the fall of 2023, and move SAT tests online in the spring of 2024; once these tests become digital, they will not give schools the option to continue on paper tests; this includes South’s conducted SAT/ACT testing days.

Senior Yemisi Olujare said that she is in favor of the SAT’s move to a digital format, but thinks that AP tests are best conducted on paper. She found digital AP tests (such as some of those conducted in the Spring of 2021) to be more taxing than paper tests. However, for SAT testing she said that a digital format could benefit students taking the timed test in future years. 

“While staring at a screen can be a lot after a while… simply being able to click a button [to select an answer] shaves off loads of time that could be directed towards difficult questions or going over answers,” Olujare said.