The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

College Board Sets a New Standard

In September 2023, College Board made some changes to Advanced Placement (AP) classes to go into effect this year. The new AP rubrics affect the Document-Based Question (DBQ) and the Long-Essay Question (LEQ) sections of the AP World History, AP U.S. History, and AP European History exams. College Board also added Pre-calculus to its AP course offerings. 

Maricruz Aguayo is an AP European History, AP World History, and AP Psychology teacher at LASA. According to Aguayo, these changes could mean higher scores for LASA students, but less of an understanding of their skills. 

“The expectations remain the same, but the quantity of times an expectation must be demonstrated was altered,” Aguayo said. “For example, on the DBQ, the College Board used to require that a student support their thesis with evidence from six of the seven documents provided; now, students must support their thesis with evidence from four of the seven documents.”

Aguayo is unsure of how these new changes will affect students’ ability to demonstrate their understanding of concepts. However, she predicts that it will be easier for LASA students to score better on the exam as a whole. 

“It may become easier for LASA students to score better on the DBQ, which is 25% of the total test score, and LEQ, which is 15% of the total test score,” Aguayo said. 

Junior Dedeepya Rudraraju thinks that students with certain skill sets will do better than others. People who are better at writing will do better on the exams with the new rubric changes, according to Rudraraju.   

“For people who normally do worse on the multiple choice section compared to the writing, they are now disadvantaged,” Rudraraju said. “On the flip side, people who struggle with the writing portion will now get higher scores because the most difficult parts of the test were altered. [The AP test] is still not too easy because the entire test won’t change, but it’ll definitely lead to way more 4s and 5s on the test since people struggle with the DBQ and LEQ the most.”

Rudraraju also expects students to spend more time studying for the multiple choice questions instead of the written portions. The multiple choice parts of the exam test general knowledge content whereas the DBQ and LEQ questions are more specialized. 

“Students will now probably be less stressed about these parts and focus more on general knowledge for the multiple-choice,” Ruraraju said. 

Aguayo believes that the AP test will still be challenging. She thinks that the changes to the rubric aren’t big enough to drastically change people’s perception of the test. 

“The test will remain challenging,” Aguayo said. “Remember, two parts of the test, multiple choice and short-answer questions, remain entirely unchanged. While the scoring is altered, the rigor of the assessment is the same: students still will not know what any of the specific topics/prompts of the short answer questions, DBQ or LEQ, are. In addition, they will still have a set amount of time in which to complete written responses for all of these prompts.” 

Junior Kirthi Korattur agrees that the changes to the AP rubrics aren’t big enough to change the way colleges perceive the AP exam. She believes that the AP exam is still difficult for students. 

“I think on a larger scale, the changes to the rubric won’t make too large of a difference on how the AP exam is perceived,” Korattur said. “History APs are still difficult in that they require students to be able to remember and analyze historical events through different lenses, and even with the changes to the rubric, the DBQ still tests for these skills.”

It may become easier for LASA students to score better on the DBQ, which is 25% of the total test score, and LEQ, which is 15% of the total test score.

— Maricruz Aguayo

Both students and teachers are not exactly sure why the College Board decided to change the rubric. Aguayo believes that it could be because of the previous level of difficulty of the test. 

“The College Board must have felt that some of the expectations for the DBQ especially were too rigorous given the time restrictions of the timed essays,” Aguayo said. “The LEQ changes aren’t too much of a surprise; they simply standardize and publicize what was often expressed as expectations during the annual reading, which is when all AP essays are scored.” 

Similar to Aguayo, Rudraraju is unsure of why changes were made to the AP exam rubrics. She suspects it may be to increase passing rates.

“I honestly have no clue. It was very sudden and surprised a lot of teachers,” Rudraraju said. “I’m guessing it’s primarily because the old requirements were hard to meet within the allocated time for the exam and they want to increase AP passing rates.” 

Aguayo believes that even with the changes to the AP rubric, teachers won’t have to change too much of what they are teaching. This is because the content required for the AP exams hasn’t been altered. 

“The rubric changes do not really change how teachers will approach teaching the content at all; it will change how we score student essays,” Aguayo said. “For example, the AP World History teachers have developed a 20-point DBQ rubric to help students better understand the various expectations. The first few times students write a timed DBQ for us, they’ll be scored on the 20-point rubric, which of course corresponds to the College Board 7-point rubric.” 

Rudraraju agrees with Aguayo on this topic. Rudraraju also believes that teachers are frustrated with the changes made to the rubric because they may deprive students of crucial writing skills. 

“The actual content isn’t changed so they aren’t forced to leave anything out, but teachers are frustrated because the exam is primarily a writing and analysis test and they’re making it significantly easier,” Rudraraju said. “This means students probably won’t develop the crucial writing skills they would have benefitted from.”

The effects of these adjustments to AP classes will be seen in May 2024 as LASA students take their official AP exams.

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