Sherwood Needs All Digital Exams for Next School Year

by Thomas Fenner and Dylan Sondike ‘24

While Covid-19 has declined, its effects on testing are still being felt throughout the country. During the height of the virus in the spring of 2020, the College Board pivoted to put modified AP exams online. As students started returning to the classrooms, most of the exams initially returned to their original format. However, the College Board saw the potential in digital exams and now offers them for Computer Science, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, European History, Seminar, U.S. History, and Modern World History. Digital AP exams are a much more efficient and orderly way for students to take these tests and should be administered at Sherwood in all the subjects in which they are an option. The school should take away this year’s option for teachers to decide whether to use a paper or digital exam for their students.

Digital exams allow students to pace themselves more effectively and are much more time-organized. Taking the AP World Exam digitally this year, the timer presented on the computer was extremely helpful in allowing students like us to manage our time, rather than trying to read the clock from a far distance as is the case with paper exams. During paper exams, proctors often spend at least 30 minutes reading directions and distributing the materials. These significantly delay exams and force students to sit in testing rooms for longer than necessary. The digital exam required far fewer materials and had all directions provided online in a much shorter time. This was very beneficial to shortening the wait time before the exam and letting students keep their focus on the exam itself.

The digital formatting also allowed for a less stressful test-taking session. Without the challenge of having to handwrite each long response, students are able to channel all of their efforts into formulating their answers. Fatigue from writing is a frustrating issue with paper exams, especially when writing many responses consecutively. Students have been carrying around their own chromebooks for three years at this point, and many teachers now permit students to type notes and assignments during class time. As a result, students have become very proficient at typing and are faster with a keyboard than with a pencil.

Digital AP exams are the future at Sherwood and across the country. These formats are much more simplified for students taking the test and for teachers administering it. With chromebooks being widely available to all students, taking tests online is much more convenient. AP Teachers should announce to their students at the beginning of next school year that they will be taking the exam in a digital format, allowing students and the teacher to practice and prepare for it throughout the school year.

The days of using paper in school and the workplace are numbered. At a time when teachers are posting materials online on Canvas and students are encouraged to submit assignments electronically, it only makes sense that AP exams use a digital format.