Should in-person AP tests be offered?
College Board plans on administering some 2021 AP tests in a way like years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The schedule includes three testing windows from which AP coordinators at each school will select. Though the second and third windows do have digital exams available, all options include in-person testing, which is a mistake. Anything that can be done remotely right now should, as the pandemic is still a very present threat. At this time, there should not be any unnecessary in-person contact. If College Board is concerned about cheating, there are several ways it can be prevented.
The simplest method is to have students take the tests in a Zoom conference with their cameras on. This reduces the possibility that students will cheat using their smartphones.
Of course, administering the tests via Zoom conference is not the only anti-cheat measure that can be employed by College Board. Another method is putting a timer on the tests. When tests are timed, students have less time to try to find answers online. It’s another efficient method to prevent cheating.
Plagiarism checkers are a useful tool for free response questions. If there are concerns that students may cheat on these questions, all that has to be done is put their writing into a plagiarism checker.
Respondus Lockdown Browser is a more advanced tool that College Board can use to reduce cheating risks. Lockdown Browser restricts students taking a test to only act within the window that the test is in. This prevents students from looking up information or the answers to questions on their computers. Combining Lockdown Browser with Zoom conferences would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for students to cheat on AP tests online.
There is no shortage of ways to prevent students from cheating on tests taken online. Since online cheating can easily be prevented, there is no reason to unnecessarily risk the lives of AP students with in-person tests. All College Board needs to do is put a little effort into preventing cheating so that online exams can be effective and a safer alternative to in-person testing.