College Board’s adjustments change AP Art students’ plans

Design and Stuido Art Teacher Shelley Ortner instructs senior
Serena Khan of Union Beach in her AP Studio Art class.


Design and Stuido Art Teacher Shelley Ortner instructs senior Serena Khan of Union Beach in her AP Studio Art class.

Isabella Ji

Advanced Placement Studio Art, organized by the College Board and offered to CHS seniors, gives high school students the chance to experience a college-level course and, for students who pass the exam, the chance to earn college credits.

Typically, the exam incorporates three courses of art education — Drawing, 2-D design and 3-D Design — by requiring 15 pieces from the Sustained Investigation section and five pieces as Selected Works. The Sustained Investigation section allows students to show the growth process of an issue and demonstrate depth and meaning, aside from visual appeal. On the other hand, the Selected Works section gives students the chance to submit their best art pieces to be judged on quality.

This year, the AP Studio Art exam, among all other AP exams, differed from what the College Board originally prepared for, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.  

AP Studio Art teacher Shelley Ortner said most of the adjustments were beneficial for the students.

“The new arrangements for this exam involved cutting the number of pieces down from 15 to 10 for the Sustained Investigation, and from five to three for Selected Works. This definitely made things easier for students because we were nearly finished when we moved to remote learning,” Ortner said. “College Board also extended the deadline from the first Friday in May to May 26, giving us more time to photograph and edit the work before submitting to College Board.”

In previous years, students had the chance to mail pieces for the judges to evaluate. This way, judges could examine the texture and the detail of the artwork in person, rather than through a computer screen. This year, however, students did not have this opportunity. 

Senior Brooke Bates of Howell explains that she is pleased with no longer mailing her pieces to the judges.

“I actually like the new rule since I never really wanted to have to mail my pieces out. It’s also pretty convenient, and it makes things easier with one less thing to worry about.” Bates said, “So I would say it is beneficial, especially for the circumstance.”

Senior Jillian Tracy of Belmar explained her thoughts on all of the changes to the exam this year.

“I think it’s definitely a relief because we have to submit less art pieces,” Tracy said. “So that alleviates some of the pressure, but it was a little bit difficult because I had planned to do some more things in my sustained investigation.”

Tracy also explains that the College Board’s decision on requiring less pieces was considerate due to current circumstances.

“I think that was a good decision also because they don’t know what kind of art supplies students have at home. So I think that it was considerate of them to lessen the pieces and take that into account.” Tracy said.

When it comes to teaching, Ortner said that home instruction is a lot more than working around the new AP exam. She explained that the AP class is now arranged differently since students are now limited in communicating creatively with each other.

Nonetheless, the College Board tweeted that the grading for AP Studio Art exams should not be any different than previous years, and the same rubric will be followed. 

“Overall, I think they have been fair and supportive to students by reducing the amount of work and extending the deadline,” Ortner said “It will be interesting, however, to see if this affects how the work is scored.”