The College Board has confirmed that thousands of students experienced technical difficulties taking the Advanced Placement exam in English last week. The admission comes just day after students attempting to take the exam in Chinese experienced problems that prevented them from logging in.
“During the May 3 administration of the AP English Literature and Composition digital exam, some students experienced technical problems in completing and submitting their work,” the College Board said in a statement Tuesday. “These issues affected a small percentage—fewer than 5 percent—of roughly 60,000 digital exam-takers, but that still represents a meaningful number of impacted students. The AP team has resolved the issues that most students experienced and will be closely monitoring all digital exams.”
The AP coordinator at a private high school that experienced problems with the English exam, and who asked not to be identified, said some exams were prematurely and automatically halted before students had completed them. Those students received an electronic message saying, “Thank you for taking the exam.”
Although the majority of students taking the test did not experience technical problems, some students who were trying to take the test were disrupted by efforts of the technical team at the high school to restore the test for students who did encounter technological snafus, the coordinator said. As a result, many more students were unable to take the exam under regular conditions.
Earning a good score on an AP exam is viewed by many students as key to getting into a good college.
“We recognize how stressful it is to have an exam interrupted by technical problems and the additional challenges to coordinate and offer make up exams, and we sincerely apologize to the students and educators affected,” the College Board said in the statement. “The AP Program is working with affected students and schools to make sure that these issues are resolved and that any student who needs a make-up exam will have the opportunity.”
The College Board added that in any exam situation, “there are issues that cause some portion of students to retake the exam. Advanced Placement always provides designated make-up days for each exam, and additional make-up options when a technical or logistical issue affects a larger number of students.”
After the problems occurred with the Chinese exam, affecting 4,700 students, the College Board said students “will be able to take the exam on its scheduled make-up date of May 18 or on an additional make-up day we plan to offer later in May.”
Robert Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing, which is critical of standardized testing, questioned whether the technical problems that occurred so far might indicate potential problems when the new digital SAT exam is rolled out next spring.
“What do the College Board’s repeated Advanced Placement computer testing fiascoes portend for the new digital SAT when that test will be administered online for the first time in the U.S. next spring?”