A message to the College Board

Ashtyn Sakamoto, Opinion Editor

With AP testing only two months away, AP students everywhere face the monumental task of preparing for the high stakes exams we know and love.
This time around though, Liberty students are going in with the bitter memory of last year’s catastrophe: the College Board not only lost 92 Liberty students’ AP exams, but also failed to take responsibility for the significant harm they caused students and families.
Each year, the College Board makes a promise to students that, in exchange for the costs of taking AP exams, they are guaranteed to receive a score, and possibly college credit. However, last year, they failed to uphold that promise. As a result, current Liberty seniors scrambled to retake the exams in October and notify all of the colleges to which they applied about their special circumstances.
According to the College Board, in May 2019, 2,825,710 students took 5,098,815 AP Exams. When a single corporation such as the College Board administers that extraordinary of a number of tests each May, some are bound to get lost.
The College Board needs a better way to help students whose tests inevitably do get lost. In the months after the disaster, the College Board gave Liberty families dozens of unclear answers. Adding salt to the wound, students were not given a refund if they opted to retake the test, although they paid for a service the College Board failed to provide.
What if there was a better way to test that would get the tests to the graders in a fraction of the time it traditionally would?
Students should take AP tests online to reduce the chance of human-caused error due to the shipping and handling process of millions of tests each year. Many students like the traditional method of test-taking, where they can underline important phrases and cross off incorrect answers. Students could still take the tests on paper, but spend an extra ten minutes transferring multiple choice answers to an online form.
Students could take the Free Response portion of the exam online, too. They could type the essays and save time, since they won’t have to write three back-to-back essays (in AP Lang, for example) by hand, and graders will be relieved because they won’t struggle to decipher illegible writing.
Beyond those basic benefits, the main advantage is clear. The College Board has immediate access to the exams, and they won’t have to sort through piles of tests at the testing center on conveyor belts, reducing the chance that one gets lost in transition.
Students are used to doing things online. We take state-mandated tests online. DECA students take their exams for competition online. We submit our formal essays online. AP tests could also be taken online to protect students’ work, especially when the stakes are so high.
Of course, there is the potential threat the system gets hacked. However, with the College Board being the powerful, wealthy corporation that it is, they can surely establish a team to target cybersecurity concerns. Additionally, DECA students have taken their tests online for years without any issues. The system instantly grades the exams, and students rest assured knowing their exams have been received.
Dear College Board, please update your procedures so we can take our exams online. Although implementing new systems is risky, it’s worth a shot.