Technical issues arise during online AP testing



AP Exams have moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Nadia Sanburn, Co-Online Editor in Chief

Students were faced with technical issues while taking the AP Exams today — the first day of AP testing in a new online format launched in the wake of COVID-19 closures.

Physics teacher Zachary Casey has kept in close contact with his 10 students taking the exam, as they have almost all had issues come up during testing. Physics was the first exam in testing that will continue over the next two weeks. 

“Most of my students — all but one I have heard from so far — had an error upon submission of their test,” Casey said. “The error I know that they all had in common was, ‘There was an issue with your submission. Please try again.’ ” 

At this point, the root of the issue is unknown. 

“Anecdotally, it seems that a higher percentage of students taking the test via school-issued laptop have had issues/errors upon submission,” he said. “However, I only know of one student at this point that took the test on something other than the school-issued laptop, their smartphone, and they didn’t have an issue. What they have heard from others though is that other smartphone test-takers did receive this same error message, so it is really hard to know exactly where the issue is coming from.” 

Senior Marian Frick, a student in Casey’s AP Physics C- Mechanics class, ran into problems with submitting her test. 

“After attempting to submit my responses on both of the questions, a message popped up saying, ‘There was an issue with your submission. Please try again,’ and I was never able to submit my answers. I just had to watch the timer run out until it was time for the next question or for the exam to be over. Then at the end, I got a message saying my exam was complete but that one or more of the questions had nothing attached or submitted. I had no internet problems so it had to be a problem with my computer being from the school or the AP site itself.”

Senior Angela Young hasn’t heard much from the district. 

“I haven’t really heard a response at all,” she said. “My teacher, Mr. Casey, reached out to me almost immediately to see how things went. So I really thank him for that.” 

Journalism teacher Barbara Tholen reached out to the district when things began to go south for students. 

“I talked to the district after students started reporting problems,” she said. “They had put in initial work to make sure the testing system would be open for students to use on their devices, but I understand they did some additional work today to ensure district web filters weren’t causing problems. I think they’re concerned that the issues were stemming from the AP rather than anything on our end. I just hope students have fewer problems going forward. I know how much work they put into preparing.”

Three students who took the AP government test this afternoon said they didn’t experience problems, but none used their school laptops.

While social media posts indicate this may have been happening to more than just the Lawrence school district, Trevor Packer, the senior vice president of Advanced Placement and Instruction, took to Twitter to say that the issues were minor. 

“Approx 50K students took today’s AP Physics C: Mechanics exam,” he said in a tweet. “98% submitted their responses, while approximately 2% encountered issues attempting to submit their response.” 

Casey thinks students should stay calm and to not sweat it. 

“If worse comes to worst, you can get a retake ticket for a date later this year, and you have gotten an excellent practice test,” he said. “Stay calm, stay focused, and we will get some answers together for you.” 

 If you have issues while testing, contact the district help desk at 330-4357, or the AP Help Desk at (866) 630-9305

Katie Williams contributed to this report.