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We know you have a lot of questions about how AP Exams will work this year. On this page, find answers to some of the most common questions we get from students, parents, and educators. 

FAQ

 

Yes. Schools can choose the exam administration options that work best for them—paper and pencil exams administered at school, digital exams administered at school, digital exams taken at home, or a mix—provided the school meets all requirements for each option.

In most cases, no. Schools indicate the reasons for later testing in AP Registration and Ordering. If they choose "Social distancing requirements" or "School closing: election, national holiday, or natural disaster," no late-testing fee will be assessed.

We’ll be updating students and parents about the new exam schedule and testing options. However, these communications will direct students to their schools for information about how exams will be given locally. Schools are responsible for determining which of the AP testing dates and modes are best suited for their unique needs this year. Students cannot independently opt to stay home for at-home digital AP testing. Given the interruptions and other challenges students face when testing at home, AP coordinators must approve any needs for at-home digital AP testing, and the school is responsible for ensuring that students have the technical support they may need to configure their individual computers for secure, at-home digital testing.

No. Your AP coordinator will have time after March 12 to move students to later exam dates, if needed. A student can be assigned to a digital exam until 7 calendar days before the exam, if circumstances change unexpectedly. There are specific deadlines to move students to Administration 2 and 3 paper and pencil and Chinese exams due to the need to ship these exam materials.

Note: If you know now that you’re NOT testing in Administration 1, we recommend assigning students to later test dates by March 12, so you don’t receive Administration 1 paper and pencil exam materials. Your AP coordinator will be able to do this in AP Registration and Ordering, beginning in early March.

See Updating Your Exam Order for information about how and when to assign students to later testing dates, if needed.

No. Digital AP Exams will be the same length as traditional paper and pencil AP Exams and include both multiple-choice and free-response questions (as always, AP Computer Science Principles remains a multiple-choice-only exam and AP Seminar remains a free-response-only exam).

No. Digital AP Exams can only be taken on laptop and desktop computers (Mac, Windows, or school-managed Chromebook). In future years, it may be possible for students to take full-length digital AP Exams on other devices, once we confirm they can be used successfully for AP testing.

No. For those subjects, schools should plan to test during Administration 1 or 2, leaving Administration 3 available for makeup exams, if needed.

Students can try to find another school at which to test.

Most students taking world language exams and music theory exams aren’t seniors this year, so they have the option to take these exams next year instead.

However, if the student is a senior, or doesn’t want to wait to take the world language or music theory exam next year, they can cancel their AP Exam at no charge and:

  • Take a CLEP exam for college credit, available for French, German, and Spanish.
  • Take their college’s own placement exam.

The world language exams require translation to and from written forms of the language, which a student with a smartphone can do by holding a translation app up to the computer screen. Accordingly, there is no way to administer exams at home that assess reading and writing of another language. Last year, colleges were willing to accept an abbreviated exam that only assessed speaking skills, but this year, their preference, understandably, is that if a student can’t take an AP Exam that measures reading and writing, and not just speaking, the student should take their own college’s placement exam when they arrive on campus. Similarly, the AP Music Theory Exam requires sight-singing without the aid of a device such as a metronome or a musical instrument, which can’t be enforced in a non-proctored setting.

The exams were designed to be as similar as possible and assess the same course content. However, there are differences related to the testing format and exam security. For example, because it’s not feasible to have students draw graphs and figures online this year, students will be asked to answer questions about provided graphs and figures. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats for further details. Synchronous start times and restrictions on going back to previous questions are also key differences from paper and pencil exams, but important to help ensure that students don’t gain unfair advantages during testing.

Yes. Digital exams will be accessible to students with disabilities who are approved for testing accommodations. Students approved for braille accommodations will be able to test using assistive technology, and braille testing options will be available for students who are unable to test using the digital exams.

Unfortunately, no. In order to preserve opportunities for students to test digitally in the impacted time zones, synchronous worldwide start times are a necessary part of our security protocols for at-home testing. We hope the opportunities to test, as well as multiple testing dates, offset the unusual testing times for some students.

Students who do not wish to test digitally should consider taking paper and pencil exams in person if they have the option to safely do so. We are encouraged that many schools in the impacted time zones are supportive of in-person testing based on results from a recent College Board survey.

No. The exam fees are unchanged.

Yes. Any state-provided subsidies apply to digital exams just as they do to paper and pencil exams.

In March 2020, colleges as well as high schools closed suddenly, and most were unprepared to complete their coursework through remote learning. Accordingly, the May 2020 exams covered a scope similar to the amount of content colleges covered before ending the semester early. However, this year, since most colleges are covering the full content in their courses, they expect the same of AP courses. The 2021 AP Exams must cover the full course content so that students are accurately placed into higher-level courses where they will succeed when they arrive at college. To students, the colleges they enter, and society at large, AP Exam scores must continue to accurately indicate whether millions of students have completed the college course material and should thus be exempted from learning it in college.

No. The digital AP Exam will not activate a computer microphone or record audio at any time on exam day.