Lost in translation: AP Chinese exam crashes for students


Photo by Jeremy Chung

From left: WCHS juniors Alexander Wei, Soham Jinsi, Eric Zhou, Justin Zacharia and Garion Cheng eat at California Tortilla after their AP Chinese exam abruptly crashes on May 3.

By Jeremy Chung, Editor-in-Chief

Imagine paying 100 dollars and studying for months for a test that can give you college credit, only for the test to be canceled due to poor management. This is exactly what happened to all WCHS students who took the AP Chinese exam this year.

On May 2, approximately 60 students walked into WCHS classrooms at 8 a.m. to take the AP Chinese exam as scheduled. Everything ran smoothly until all testing screens abruptly stopped loading and the test crashed. Moreover, almost all schools on the U.S. East Coast that were administering the test also had their students experience the same problems, with many administrators voicing their concerns publicly on Twitter. For WCHS students, after taking the scheduled break earlier than scheduled while administrators tried to solve the problem, they were eventually told nothing could be done, and they had to take the make-up exam on May 18.

“It was really annoying and just felt unfair since everyone taking the test just wasted three hours of their morning, not to mention the countless hours of preparation many students did,” WCHS junior Catherine Qu, one of the test takers, said. “I think WCHS did the best they could in this situation.”

Reportedly, the College Board servers that were running the test crashed nationally, causing a massive glitch for all test takers. This was the first nationwide crash since the test’s inception. Since the crash, however, the College Board has yet to release a statement or public apology.

“I was quite annoyed [by the technical difficulties] and my friends felt the same,” WCHS junior Soham Jinsi, another test taker, said. “I thought I was doing well, and then [the administrators] told us we had to redo the whole thing. Over time the annoyance became acceptance and I had to move on.”

However, the technical difficulties were not over, as another glitch occurred during the make-up test: the testing app said the test was already completed, and students were unable to log on. Thus, yet again, they could not take the test as scheduled. No information regarding the exam or a makeup session has been given by WCHS or the College Board.

“The second time [a glitch] happened felt like a practical joke, I just kept thinking ‘no way this happens again,’” Qu said. “When we got the news that we couldn’t take the makeup test that day and had to head home, it was purely frustrating; we had prepared for this test twice already, only to be sent home twice, and now we’ll have to prepare for it again for a third test that isn’t even confirmed to happen.”

In a similar case, thousands of students nationwide who took the online format of the AP English Literature and Composition exam experienced technical difficulties and were asked to take the make-up exam, demonstrating yet again the failed attempts of College Board to modernize their services.

“WCHS did not proctor any online exams such as AP Lit except for AP Chinese and Japanese because we were worried about any technical difficulties,” WCHS AP Coordinator Christopher Paskvan said. “Unfortunately, this was the first year we have seen an incident like AP Chinese this year from the College Board. As for the students who experienced more technical difficulties, we are actively working with the College Board to see what options we can give to our students.”

Despite almost all students having completed their AP exams, some students still have not crossed the finish line yet. Many students hope that more accountability will be taken by the College Board and that they will not have to stress over this again.

“I feel like this was just an unfortunate series of events that aren’t WCHS or College Board’s fault, but hopefully, it’s a one-time thing and never happens for future years,” Qu said. “For the College Board, I just want them to ensure that the makeup tests we take will be of similar difficulty as the tests others took and will be graded fairly.”