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Dear Academic Approach Families and Colleagues:

The shift to at-home learning has brought many unexpected challenges and changes. College Board released substantial details late last week on the implementation of AP tests including the schedule for testing and more details about the structure of the tests themselves. We’re diving into how academic preparation and social-emotional learning may relate to these testing updates.

What are the major changes?
Most AP exams will be given in timed testing sessions lasting 45 minutes (plus an additional 5 minutes for students to upload their responses). Students may choose to upload typed or handwritten responses to each question (most tests will include two), and students will get access to the testing system 30 minutes prior to the test to get set up. Unlike past AP tests, these tests will be open-book and open-note. They will be less focused on memorization or easily searchable content and instead focused on critical thinking and analysis tasks.

AP teachers will actually get access to students’ responses shortly after the testing window (by May 26) so they can see how their students performed. Teachers may also elect to use these exams for additional graded material in the classes. Allowing teachers to view student responses is also among many new security measures in place to prevent cheating.

How can students prepare academically?
We’re working with our students to ensure they have not only a deep understanding of the content but also the critical thinking skills to be successful in this new format. Much of our curriculum for test preparation incorporates close reading, citing evidence, critical thinking, and drawing logical and relevant conclusions–all skills that will be essential for students to successfully complete these exams and be prepared for college level curriculum. In the absence or adjustment of grades for spring of junior year, these AP scores may be even more important in demonstrating student learning from this school year.

How does social-emotional learning relate?
Students will face many unexpected challenges in this new testing format–an unexpected environment, very tightly timed reading and writing tasks, higher-level thinking tasks, and limited opportunities to demonstrate knowledge. The self-awareness, self-management, and decision-making skills developed through strong social-emotional learning programming will be essential to student success on these tasks. Students preparing for these exams need not only to review the content–they also need to prepare for the rigors of the task and test itself. We’re working with students to ensure they’re prepared for all aspects of these assessments.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

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