Forced June AP exams scrapped, Paly offers all in May

Tara Kapoor, Senior Staff Writer

Multiple buildings on Palo Alto High School campus, including the gym, will be used to administer AP exams next month. Amid concerns regarding on-camping testing capacity, all students in AP Calculus, Statistics, Physics and Chemistry were shifted to the June administration. However, Paly Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson said additional space on campus was found to accommodate all students who choose the in-person exam dates. “We also received new information on the gyms related to capacity after we first thought we wouldn’t be able to accommodate [AP students in-person],” Berkson said. Photo: Daniel Garepis-Holland.

After a late March scheduling shift that left students fearing June Advanced Placement exams, Palo Alto High School Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson said in-person May AP exams will now be an option this semester for all students who choose to take them then.

On March 21, Paly students of AP Calculus (AB and BC), Statistics, Physics and Chemistry abruptly received emails from Total Registration with their AP exam dates rescheduled to the second and third weeks of June — after school ends. Due to worries over lack of space on campus, according to Berkson, the exams were shifted to the College Board’s “Administration 3,” or at-home AP exams. All other AP exams were still scheduled for May, in Administration 1 or 2.

Backlash against the shift of exams to after the last day of school, including a student petition, led Paly administration to issue a survey to AP students last week asking whether they preferred May or June testing in order to determine whether holding in-person May exams would be possible.

“Paly kind of limited us by just changing our registrations without telling us anything,” Anisha Gandhi, a Paly junior who began the AP exam date petition, said. “I wanted to create the petition because I didn’t really want students to be forced to take it in May or June because I knew people had reasons for wanting to do both.”

Now, Berkson said that Paly will accommodate the choice for May or June exams for every AP student, especially as the school now has testing capacity in the gym that Berkson said was previously thought to be unavailable.

All students who responded to the survey and requested to take the test at school will be able to,” Berkson stated in a message to the Paly Voice on Friday. “We will find the space.”

Gandhi said she preferred the May exam dates in order to finish testing before the end of school for a variety of reasons.

“I didn’t want to have to worry about them [AP tests] after school ended and I didn’t want to have to remember content for that long,” Gandhi said. “I knew it would be harder to reach my teachers after school ends, so in case I had questions I just thought it would be more convenient to take them in May.”

The different formats — May in-person versus June online, with testing limitations such not returning to previous questions on the June online exams — was another factor in student decisions on test dates, according to Gandhi.

“For my AP Statistics exam, the format in May [on paper], I preferred that a lot more than the format in June, which is the online version where you’re not allowed to go back and forth between questions,” Gandhi said. “A majority of the exam is multiple-choice, so that’s a really important part of the exam and I was really scared that I wouldn’t be able to check my answers [in the online format].”

Nevertheless, according to Berkson, most students opted to take the exams in June.

“For the 6 tests in question, the majority chose to do it at home,” Berkson said. “Majority being somewhere around 60%, give or take.”

According to Berkson, although the SAT will be administered at Paly on Tuesday, April 13 for over three hundred juniors, the logistics are different from AP exams because class will be asynchronous on the date of the SAT — an option not feasible during the weeks of AP testing.

“We couldn’t shut down the school for numerous days for the AP tests,” Berkson said.

Overall, Gandhi said she is now content with Paly’s offering of both exam dates to satisfy all student needs.

“College Board offered us three sets of dates and two different formats so that students could pick which one is easiest for them,” Gandhi said. “I think that’s happening now [at Paly], so that’s really great.”