AP Exams – Changes Due to Coronavirus

March 22, 2020

On Friday, March 20th, the College Board delivered some much anticipated news about how they would proceed with Advanced Placement (AP) exams as the nation, along with most of the world, contends with the COVID-19 pandemic. In a survey conducted by the organization, 91% of the 18,000 participants indicated that they still wanted to a chance to complete the exams and potentially earn college credit. Fortunately, they will still get that chance. The following is a summary of everything that is known about AP exams at the present moment.

How will AP exams be administered in 2020?

Recognizing that traditional, in-person test administration was unlikely to be viable option by May, the College Board is now “investing in the development of a new at-home testing option.” Here is what we know about the online tests so far:

  • There will be two separate testing dates.
  • One will be very soon for students who wish to test on the material while it is still fresh in their minds.
  • Each test will only be 45 minutes long instead of the usual 2-3 hour duration.
  • The test will only include content that was covered through early March when the pandemic began shutting down large numbers of high schools throughout the U.S.
  • This will account for roughly 75% of the material traditionally covered on the exam.

How should I study for the exams?

Since school districts around the country are adapting to online instruction at varying speeds, the College Board, beginning on Wednesday, March 25th, will begin making their own free resources available. These will include live AP review courses taught by AP teachers located across the U.S. These streams will be mobile-friendly and also archived so they can be accessed at any time. Additionally, students will have free access to all practice questions.

How will they prevent cheating?

AP Capstone and AP Computer Science courses have integrated work done at home into one’s final exam score for years, so this concept is not entirely new. To fight against cheating or plagiarism, the College Board promises to utilize various “digital security tools and techniques”.

How will this year’s AP exams be different?

While the development of most tests is just getting underway, changes to certain mandatory submitted material has already been revealed. For example for AP Studio Art, students will have to submit 3 Selected Works instead of 5, and 10 images instead of 15 for the Investigation requirement. For AP Computer Science Principles, there will be no multiple-choice exam in 2020; the entire score will be based on the Explore Task and the Create Task. For AP Research, the Academic Paper will still submitted but the presentation portion will be canceled. Similarly, AP Seminar will forgo the team/individual presentation and end-of-course exam. Only the Individual Research Report and Individual Written Argument will count toward the AP exam score.

Information on what the exam questions will and won’t cover, as well the exam question type(s) and two exam dates will be revealed by the College Board on Friday, April 3rd.

What if I don’t have a computer and/or the internet?

The College Board has pledged to work with individuals and local school districts to overcome any such issues. Further, they have vowed to ensure that the exams can be taken on any type of smart device—computer, phone, or tablet.

When are Digital Portfolios due?

If your course requires the submission of a Digital Portfolio, the due date for those items has been extended until May 26th. Courses where this applies are as follows:

  • AP Art and Design: 2D Portfolio
  • AP Art and Design: 3d Portfolio
  • AP Art and Design: Drawing
  • AP Computer Science Principles
  • AP Research
  • AP Seminar

Do I have to take the exam I signed up for?

Fully recognizing the gravity of the moment and the difficult circumstances presently faced by many students, the College Board will refund anyone who no longer wishes to take an exam. Late fees will be waived.

Other relevant blogs on college admissions and coronavirus

Readers of this blog may also benefit from other recently published pieces on related topics including:

College Admissions and Coronavirus: Advice for High School Juniors

College Admissions and Coronavirus: Advice for High School Seniors

Top 10 Online Summer Programs for High School Students

We will continue to release additional blogs in the coming weeks designed to guide college-bound teens through these uncertain and challenging times.