Opting to enroll in any high school Advanced Placement (AP) course
requires incredible determination, intelligence, and personal drive. Of course, the rigors of these classes arrive with their own rewards. Student who earn a passing score on an AP exam can earn college credit, saving students and their families thousands of dollars on future tuition costs. However, will your AP exam scores even count? Unfortunately, if your school fails to abide by the testing guidelines set forth by the College Board
, your AP exam scores may be canceled.
Strict AP Testing Procedures
As the College Board articulates, every public and private school student opting to participate in AP exam(s) must adhere to specific and strict testing guidelines. AP administrators demand that "all students are given the same opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and to prevent any student from gaining an unfair advantage over another because of testing irregularities or improper conduct."
The full scope of exam procedures are outlined in the College Board manual for teachers and students, but specific violations include:
Students taking an AP exam after the original date of administration
Students taking an AP exam at a different time of day than is mandated
Teachers "interviewing" students for test information after a student finishes his or her AP test (teachers can then use this information to unjustly provide their own students with advantages in the future)
AP teachers looking at the actual test questions, answers, and/or processing any unauthorized test materials
These guidelines, along with a list of other specific instructions, must be followed in order for students to receive validated and approved scores. If any breach of security occurs during an AP test, single students, specific groups, or entire communities of testers may receive nullified test score results - which means their passing test scores cannot be applied towards college credit!
Combating New Methods of Cheating
The College Board is constantly working to eliminate unethical cheating
. Recently, students were caught texting AP test answers to friends in different time zones. Subsequently, the College Board now requires that every AP exam (for each subject area) is completed by students at the exact same time, regardless of one's time zone. This requirement was instated in order to prevent "time-zone cheating." In other words, if students are taking their AP Literature exam at 12:00 pm EST, every student taking the same AP Literature test in a western time zone must take their exam on the same day at 9am PST.
In addition, all students taking AP tests are required to sign a statement that contractually obligates them to report any misconduct to the Office of Testing Integrity.
Students with Canceled AP Test Scores
While incidents of canceled scores are rare, any improper conduct is followed up with extreme consequences. Specifically, as the OC Register
reveals, 690 AP exam scores were thrown out after the College Board received several reports of testing misconduct. Taken by Trabuco Hills High School
students in Mission Viejo, California, 690 AP tests were unapproved due to testing errors and staff violations of security protocols, which reportedly included:
Groups of students were caught cheating
The school did not meet the requirements for proctor-to-student ratios
The school did not enforce proper seating arrangements (i.e. the desks were too close together or faced other students)
The use of cell phones / text messages occurred during testing
Cheating continues to grow prevalent in today's public schools, and AP exams are no exception. However, by ensuring that your school follows the College Board's strict guidelines, you can increase your chances of taking an AP exam that will be considered legitimate.