When the College Board decided to move all AP tests online, everyone’s first thought was the same: what about cheating?
It’s inevitable that some students will try to find a work around and cheat during their exams. Therefore, it’s important to understand how these students will most likely cheat, and what the College Board can do to stop them.
It has become common practice for top colleges and universities to use AP exam scores as factors in the admission process. Over the years, APs have become just another checkbox on a student’s college admission profile. Students are incentivized to cheat because they want to receive all 4s and 5s and have a better chance at getting into their dream school.
How Will Students Cheat?
Todays students are craftier than ever. They can google anything they want, set up chats with their friends to discuss the exam, even work on the exam together on one big document. Perhaps the sneakiest way students will try to cheat is by hiring a professional tutor to write their AP exam for them.
How is the College Board Preventing Cheating?
Currently, the College Board only seems to be preventing plagiarism, which is important but not the only way students can cheat. The College Board has digital security tools and plagiarism software to detect cheating. They have also said the AP questions will be questions a student can’t just google or figure out by chatting with friends.
While this positive, it won’t catch all cheaters, especially those who use a private tutor.
Three Things the College Board Can Do to Prevent Cheating
1. Create a machine learning algorithm that imports writing samples from the student and compares it to the student’s AP responses to detect if the writing came from the same student. This of course is complicated and it is unclear if the College Board has the resources to create something like this.
2. Record students taking the exam. This will prevent students from having a brainstorming session with a tutor. There are softwares out there where you can record a student taking a test and prevent them from browsing the internet as well. However, this would penalize lower-income students who do not have a camera on their device.
3. Have english teachers of AP course work validate their students AP exam responses and flag students for potential cheating. For example, if a D student writes a professional level essay, the teacher can flag that student. However, this places a lot of weight on the teacher who may be incentivized to help their students.
Best Response to Inevitable Cheating
Someone, somewhere in the country will cheat on their AP exam. So the best way to combat this is to change the incentive of the test. We should get back to what the true purpose of an AP exam is: to get credit in high school that can then be used in college so a student can get out of intro courses or graduate early. Colleges should not use AP exams as an admission tool and instead use them to allow their students to receive credit as incoming freshman.
Cheating will happen, but the College Board and universities don’t have to sit by and do nothing