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  • Zoe Fisher, Anna Mayer, Maia Riggs

2024 AP Tests Face Hiccups, Disruptions


Nebe Okeke (‘27) studies for an exam/ Credits: Oluwamayowa Akinsanya (‘26)


Between May 6th and May 17th, the majority of School Without Walls students discarded their usual routines to take AP tests. 


Despite the importance of AP tests, many students and faculty have reported disappointment at how they were handled by the school this year. Distractions, poor proctoring, and inefficient processes left students peeved and frustrated, with many feeling that outside interference limited their test performance.


Disruptions, especially from phones, were a primary culprit of the issues.


Sirin Toal (‘25), who took the AP US History test in a GW testing room, was upset with one particular disturbance. “There was a ringtone going off that said, ‘Can I put my balls in your jaws,’” she said. According to Toal, this song was especially distracting because it was “so catchy.” Further, she and other APUSH students strongly believed that “a ringtone asking for oral sex” had no place in a testing room.


Additionally, during the exam one proctor was playing an audio on their phone that was audible to students toward the front of the room. Though the substance of the audio was unclear, students hypothesized the proctor was watching TikToks while they were supposed to be monitoring students. 


Many students felt proctors should have worked harder to ensure student and proctor devices would be turned off and put away during exams.


During the AP Music Theory test, a proctor’s phone began playing music while students were listening to an audio. “On one of my last listens, my proctor started playing music on her phone,” said Chiara Galloway-Slick (‘25), “I missed a crucial portion of the clip because of it.”


It is worth noting that, according to the College Board’s rules, proctor phones must be silenced in AP test rooms. Another issue with the 2024 AP Tests was frequent technological failures. Students taking the AP Music Theory exam struggled through faulty sound systems and playback issues, despite much of the test revolving around listening. 


Lucy Byron (‘25) reported that administration required students to use school computers for the sight-singing section of the test instead of the tape recorders requested by their teacher, Mr. Alberts. According to students, the mediocre audio quality limited their performance.


Further disruptions included the fact that students who took the AP English Language and Composition test in the accommodations room were also distracted by Kahoot music playing loudly across the hall and chairs scraping on the floor above. 


Though this disruption was frustrating, the fire alarm that went off during the test was even more disruptive. 


“Everyone was frantic because we didn’t know if [the drill] was going to affect our scores,” said Evie Corr (‘25), who took the AP Lang test along with Galloway-Slick. She felt like “the administration forgot we were in there.” 


According to Ms. Moore, the SWW AP Coordinator, the fire alarm was “a mistake.” How the fire alarm went off remains unclear.


Corr added that “When you have the AP tests in school,” she said, “kids are walking in, opening the doors, and being super loud and distracting. It felt like other teachers didn’t even know we were taking a test.”


Students and teachers have additionally raised concerns about how proctors are decided, especially for students with accommodations. 


According to a teacher in the Humanities department, substitutes are not allowed to proctor CAPE testing, the standardized test administered to all underclassmen by DCPS annually. Meanwhile, SWW teachers must volunteer to proctor AP tests which has caused a shortage in proctors and made the school use substitutes for these exams instead. 


The College Board is clear that proctors must be properly trained to administer AP tests. Many proctors for accommodations rooms seemed to not understand many of those needs and neglected to provide adequate support for students. Administration has not commented on the training of proctors. 


The lack of respect for AP testing guidelines also exhibits a sense of privilege that many have felt rampant at Walls. For some, AP tests offer an opportunity to save thousands of dollars in college courses, which can represent huge financial relief. Distractions in testing rooms may cause many students to face financial repercussions because they did not receive the scores to get them out of entry level college courses. 


There are systems in place for students to report concerns with the administration of AP Tests. Any student can file complaints with Ms. Moore, who will take the appropriate actions, if necessary. 


Despite the multitude of problems with AP Testing this year, Ms. Moore has received no complaints and believes the testing went well. “I would say overall, AP Testing this year has gone really smoothly,” she said.

Trinity Foard (‘25) chose not to file a complaint because she feels the school “would not do anything to fix these problems.” 


Other students think filing a complaint may but them at risk of College Board cancelling their scores.

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