Removal of LEQ leaves students with mixed feelings

Students are faced with immense stress as they prepare for the AP test in May. Many students have different stress responses to the removal of the Long Essay Question from the exam

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Students are faced with immense stress as they prepare for the AP test in May. Many students have different stress responses to the removal of the Long Essay Question from the exam

By Alfonso Arduz, Staff Writer

As AP exam month creeps around the corner, many students are left wondering what changes will be made due to COVID-19 this year. Although many adjustments have already been made, one has become especially noticeable to WCHS students registered to take the AP US History Exam; The College Board’s recent decision to remove the LEQ has left students with mixed feelings. 

The LEQ or Long Essay Question consists of four major parts: the thesis, contextualization section, evidence segment, and reasoning and analysis. The prompts normally regard these time periods (1491-1800, 1800-1898, 1890-2001), and the exam-taker must display a complex understanding of the prompt and craft an argument among other skills. The LEQ commonly lasts 40 minutes and counts as 15 percent of your final APUSH exam.

On Feb. 9, the College Board released their updated version of the 2021 APUSH exam format stating that digital exams were to remove the LEQ portion of the exam due to security considerations. In exchange for this decision, two additional Short Answer Questions – SAQs – were introduced to the exam. 

“It makes sense because if you have access to the internet you have more chances to cheat on the LEQ exams whereas the DQB has already given you a document,” WCHS freshman Karl Boehler said. “Its removal has lifted some weight off my shoulders. ” 

The removal of the LEQ has many students excited about the decision. However, on the other side of the coin, WCHS History teacher Mrs. Marshall is opposed to the revision. 

“I think if [the] College Board removes the LEQ on one version it would not be fair to have two separate exams. One group has less of a chance to show what they know on the specific topic,” Marshal said.

This sudden modification has taken students by surprise and forced them to change their studying methods. Many see this as an opportunity to shift their mindset towards other portions of the exam. 

“Now that the LEQ is gone I don’t have to necessarily have as much background knowledge on the United States. I can now focus on the analysis skills aimed at the DBQ and other portions of the exam,” Boehler said. “It joys me to see my workload slowly diminish as a result of this change.”

Although the removal of the LEQ seems like a dream in reach, it comes not without consequence. Some student’s such as Karl Boehler believe that this exchange is a fair one to make and levels out the playing field for everyone. 

“If they just removed the LEQ and didn’t add anything to compensate for the removal then it would be unfair for students who are taking it at school,” Boehler said.

Students have begun to figure out that the removal of the LEQ was not the only positive outcome in this tradeoff. Some believe that time factors into their opinion of the decision. 

“I no longer have to worry about the time constraint while writing my long essay question, instead I can now learn to pace myself while taking the short answered questions,” freshman Philip Kotsanos said.

APUSH is a course taken mostly by freshmen, and seeing a sudden change to their first AP test will cause conflicting feelings for some. This abrupt change could also alter the way new freshmen view their future APUSH exams. Many new concerns about the exam could add another layer of nervousness and uncertainties. One specific concern was the experience given during the exam.  

“My main problem is the inability to take the LEQ portion of the exam. We have already been taught how to face it and all of a sudden it is being snatched from us,” Philip said. “I was looking forward to putting my writing skills to the test.”