Students experience technical difficulties with online learning and AP testing

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On March 17, New York City public schools closed, causing classes and AP exams to be shifted to online learning platforms. While this was a necessary transition, a new reliance on technology and the internet brought about some disruptions in the lives of some students. 

Many students from lower class families were at a disadvantage due to the lack of technology or access to a stable internet to complete their work online. To address the issues caused by these economic disparities, the Department of Education has been loaning families without an internet based technology laptops, tablets, and Chromebooks. Spectrum also offers free wifi to students who do not have access to the internet. 

Even so, technology has not always been reliable for some students. Sophomore Ashlee Tolentino said,  “My internet connection did not work for an entire day. Because of this, I was not able to do any of my homework that day.”

Another problem students have encountered is the slower connections on certain websites. Junior Hans Li said, “Sometimes Google Classroom fails to load some material.” 


Junior Xin Lin added, “I feel like the whole Google system has been working really slow for me. [It] prevents me from typing continuously on the docs.”


These flaws of technology-based learning carried over into the AP exams offered by the College Board. Some students had difficulty accessing their test and others were not able to submit their exam due to the wide variety of devices and versions used as well as outdated browsers. Junior Rachel Weng said, “I was unable to log into my AP US History exam until six minutes into the exam, thus leaving me with reduced time. My AP Environmental Science test faced the same problem in regards to failure to log into the exam. Trying all means and different browsers, turning off all plug-ins and using incognito did not help.” 

Junior Joyce Zheng encountered a similar experience. She said, “[During the exam] when I had time remaining to press the button to submit, it would not submit and for me knowing it was the server or my internet, my answer was not received.” 

As a result, those who couldn’t submit their responses had to retake their exams in June. Many of the students expressed their frustration with the systemic flaw. Junior Annie Lin said, “The fact that I had fully completed my exam made me feel even more upset that I was not able to make it count.”

The College Board was able to address some of these concerns by allowing submission of the answers by email following an unsuccessful submission the second week of exams. Students had mixed feelings about this attempt to solve these submission problems. 

Sophomore Alexia Dias said, “The email submission was a great idea as it gave some the opportunity to submit a different way and avoid doing the makeup test.” 

On the other hand, junior Pehal Singh said, “I am a bit disappointed that the College Board did not think of this plan [the first week]…I wish that they implemented this last week as they knew technical difficulties would occur.”