Latest updates regarding grades and final exams


Shree Delwadia

Keeping everyone informed. As students are completing the school year virtually, teachers and staff are contiously updating them with the newest information. As of now, there are updates regarding grades and tests administered at the end of the year.

Shree Delwadia and Naisha Roy

As many schools are closed for the rest of the year, schools and educational organizations are adapting to these unique circumstances. Many counties are releasing new updates and information regarding final grades and exams to keep their students informed. Additionally, teachers, counselors and faculty are supporting their students to help them finish a successful year. Below is a description of the different updates from the FCSS (Forsyth County School System) and College Board.

Forsyth Country Grading/Exams 

Forsyth County implemented a new grading policy that aims to help students make the absolute best of online learning. According to the Forsyth County Grading Guidelines for Online Learning, “For all grade levels, the totality of student work assigned and submitted during online learning, March 16-May 22, 2020, will only have a positive impact on the overall semester average.” 

The hold harmless clause essentially means that students’ grades cannot be lowered from the posted Q3 average; rather, they have a chance to improve their averages by working harder this semester and embracing the online learning process. At the end of the year, students will get their final grade through two options of averaging: option 1 is to average the Q3 grade with the Semester 1 grade to get the final average; option 2 is to average the full S2 grade and the S1 grade.


“It is possible that grades put in the gradebook since the 9 week posting was done can help a student’s overall grade go up, but assignments in the 4th quarter cannot make your overall grade go down” stated Ms. Wilson in a letter explaining the new FCS grading guidelines.

The purpose of the new guidelines is to support students during difficult circumstances, to remain flexible in the face of stressors, and to encourage students to learn for the sake of learning.  

Forsyth County News addressed these new changes in a recent article describing the updates.  They also interviewed superintendent Jeff Beardon, who shed some light on the changes: “I think this plan is respectful to all,” he said. “Our goal is we want to make sure we continue learning, but we also want to alleviate some stress [for families], and I think this plan does that.”

In addition, Forsyth County Schools also put out a new schedule for all grade levels that shows the approximate amount of time students should be putting towards education in a day, divided by class period. While these are just guidelines and can differ by student, they should help in planning out classwork and gauging where students are in the process. 

Furthermore, FCSS has also announced that final exams are canceled for middle and high school students. Statewide exams such as End of Couse and End of Grade Milestone Testing are suspended for the current school period. To find more information about this topic, click here.

It’s important to remember that these new policies are meant to put more emphasis on learning and less emphasis on grades. It’s still important for all students, regardless of whether or not they are happy with their current grades, to work as hard as they can and put their best foot forward in regards to actually learning new information.

Advanced Placement (AP) Exams 

After surveying over 10,000 AP Students, College Board saw that a majority of the students still wanted to earn their AP Credit despite the current situation. As a result, the College Board has modified its current testing procedures with a secure online AP exam. The new online exam allows students to take the exam at home on any personal device such as a computer, tablet, phone, or laptop.

This online exam will have a time span of 50 minutes and will contain up to two Free Response Questions (FRQ). Most exams will consist of one long FRQ in which students will have 40 minutes to compose and five minutes to submit their typed answer or upload a photo of their written answer. If a test contains two questions, students will have 25 minutes for first FRQ and 15 minutes for the second, with five minutes for each question to upload. Students will not be able to move back and forth between the two questions due to security reasons. Some exams might be structured differently based on the subject. To find specific information on a certain AP Exam, please click here.

College Board is offering two dates for each subject, one being the actual administration day and the other being the make-up day. However, some courses such as AP Capstone, AP Art and Design, and AP Computer Science Principles do not require an End-of-Course Exam. For these classes, students will either complete a task or submit their portfolio by the appropriate deadline. The AP Exams will begin May 11th and run all the way up to May 22nd; the make-up dates for the exams begin the first week of June. 

To ensure that students are prepared for the exam, College Board has released an exam guide and an exam demo. These materials are designed to give students an idea of what to bring on test day and how their test will run.

All students will take the exam at the same time; however, the time is based off the student’s geographic location. For students in Forsyth County, the test will begin at 2:00 P.M. Eastern Time. Additionally, since many students were not able to finish off the school year, the 2020 AP Exams only cover units teachers were able to teach by early March.

This year’s AP Exams, much like college exams, are open-book or open-note, allowing students to use their class notes and resources. However, it is wise to still prepare for the exam as searching through notes for information can take valuable time away from the exam. College Board has designed the questions to be completed at home, making sure that students cannot just copy similar responses from other sources; they also need to apply the words/techniques to the presented prompt.

As this is an online exam, College Board is making sure the test is as secure as possible. Collaborating with others is not permitted and can result in consequences such as not getting a score or not being able to take future exams. There are also a variety of online tools integrated into the exam to detect plagiarism. Students must verify their identity when taking the exam to ensure secure administration. Teachers will receive student submissions 48 hours after the exam for additional security reasons.

Furthermore, College Board is offering students a variety of resources to prepare for this year’s exams. They are offering daily live review sessions on Youtube for each course, as well as additional FRQ practice on AP Classroom. The scores for the exam will range from 1-5, and students will most likely receive them around the usual time frame. Many colleges support this alternative AP Exam opportunity and will likely give the student credit for the class. 

As the exams continue to get closer, there are more and more resources and information released to support students and teachers. College Board is cheering its AP students on and wishing them the best as they finish out their AP journey.

Staying on top of education through these times is how students will be able to remain connected with their teachers, administrators, and peers. It’s important to constantly check the school, College Board, and county websites in order to be the most informed.