What’s going on with AP and IB exams?

Isabel Costa, Opinion Editor

Over a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, AP and IB exams are a little scrambled. (Graphic by Matthew Lin)

With the third quarter coming to an end, students are beginning to plan and prepare for their final AP and IB exams. Luckily for IB students, almost all exams have been cancelled and an alternate grading system will be used. For AP students, however, exams are still on and some are in less than two months.

We’ll start with the good news; Almost all IB exams are cancelled for Mason students, with the exception of IB Film Studies, Theater, Visual Arts, and Music students. In his February 19 edition of the Mustang Spirit, Mr. Hills said, “We have determined that the traditional IB exams cannot be safely and fairly administered.”

Students will still receive IB grades for their courses, but this year teachers will be creating predicted grades based on assignments and evaluations. These grades will take into account Internal and External assessments, as well as the tests and work a student has completed throughout their one or two year long course. For information on how IAs and EAs will be weighted for your class, use this link to the IB Assessment Weights 2021 form.

Most IB teachers and students are familiar with the format of IB tests and grades, so there shouldn’t be too much change in the way students are already assessed in their classes. “The teachers have a really good handle on how the IB marks scheme works,” IB Coordinator Mr. Coast said.

“In many ways [this year’s grades] are much more realistic, because the teachers have data, they’re done the internal assessments and scored them, they have old test questions they can use.”

Although these grades are slightly different from what Mason is used to, Mr. Coast has assured that they will be accepted by both the IB Diploma Program and colleges. Students have mixed reactions on the news of predicted grades being used in replacement of traditional exams.

“I think some students may be disappointed we can’t test, some might be relieved, but I think overall it’s important to note that the IB scores that are posted in July and that show up on official transcripts are just as valid as any other year. Regardless if you sit for the exams or not, there is no distinction on your transcript,” said Mr. Coast.

However, AP exams are still on and are coming up in a little less than two months.

college board ap exam table
College Boards’s official chart explaining the different availabilities of AP exams. Mason will be using all three testing windows, and IB Coordinator Mr. Coast said, “Most students are testing at home, with the exception of those who can’t and those with teachers who specifically requested for in-school testing.” (Photo via College Board)

2021 AP exams will have online and in person options. There are three test taking windows and each class has different availability of in person and online options. Tests will be from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. for all students.

Last year, the College Board modified their exams to an online format that was shorter than usual. This year, tests will revert back to the original lengths and formats, regardless of if they are online or in-person.

AP U.S. Government teacher Ms. Mahony is confident that the College Board has appropriately adjusted their test content to match what students have learned this year. She says that students are definitely ready for these tests and don’t need to worry more than normal.

For the most part, the actual exams will be similar to what they have been in previous years. Content has been reduced in most courses, so there is slightly less material, but the original testing format for each class has been implemented again. Tests will still be scored on the College Board’s six point scale.

At Mason, the majority of students will take the tests on computers and in the school building, with the exception of a few courses in which teachers requested paper exams. Testing dates have not yet been decided for each course, so ask your teachers questions regarding individual courses. AP exam scores will be released in July or August depending on the testing window used.