New test format lengthens AP Spanish exam

I would like to respond to Marsha Labunsky’s May  30 article about the AP Spanish Language exam (“Technical glitches delay AP Spanish Language exam”). 

The article states that the AP Spanish Language exam is supposed to take a little over three hours, implying that the technical problems alone are to blame for the fact that some students didn’t finish the exam until 2 p.m. 

However, I would like to point out that this exam (with its new format) couldn’t possibly be administered in a little over three hours, even under ideal conditions. 

I participate in an electronic discussion group of AP Language teachers, and many other teachers reported information about how the test administration went in their schools.  The shortest test time that anyone reported was four hours, 45 minutes.  That was the time reported in schools where there weren’t five large groups of students sharing a language lab, and where nothing went wrong.

In some cases, students spent eight hours taking the exam; this happened in schools where a number of students were sharing the same tape recorders in order to record the speaking portion of the exam.  Some of those students couldn’t take the AP Statistics exam that day because of the length of the Spanish exam. 

I do not mean to imply that Marsha Labunsky doesn’t have a good point in questioning the length of the exam.  Many of us in my listserv agreed that we didn’t have to take a five-hour exam to get our Master’s Degree!  It would be interesting to see how the College Board would answer the question of why the AP Spanish Language exam has to be so very long and arduous.

Figuring out the logistics of giving this exam is a Herculean task; [Jordan] Church, [Chris] Gragg and [Narciso] Santiago are to be commended for their hard work in making it all happen.  I look forward to [this] year when, hopefully, the day will be a bit shorter for the students taking the test.

 ­— Margot Riemer