AP Exam Changes for COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

For the 2020 administration of AP exams, instead of taking a several-hour AP exam at school or a testing center, students will take a 45-minute at home exam that consists only of free-response questions for each AP test. This will only happen for 2020; next year AP exams will return to their usual format. The College Board decided to make this change to both keep students safe during the COVID-19 outbreak but also give students the opportunity to still get AP exam scores. Before announcing these changes, they surveyed roughly 18,000 AP students to see if they still wanted the opportunity to take an AP test; 91% responded that they did.

If you have already registered for AP tests and decide you do not want to take one or more of them, you can cancel and receive a full refund.

What Will the AP Exams Be Like This Year?

This year, most** AP tests will:

  • Be taken at the student’s home
  • Be taken online
  • Last 45 minutes
  • Consist only of free-response questions
  • Only include questions on topics most classes have covered by early March

**For AP exams that involve creating and submitting a portfolio (Art and Design, Computer Science Principles, Research, and Seminar) portfolio requirements have been reduced, and the deadlines for them to be submitted have been extended to May 26th, at 11:59PM ET.

As you can see, the College Board has made multiple changes to AP exams in order to make taking the exam as easy as possible for students whose classes have been disrupted by the coronavirus. Instead of taking the exam in-person, it will be taken online and at your home. You can take the AP exams on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and you can also take photos of handwritten answers and submit those (this can be particularly useful if you need to work out equations or draw diagrams). After the exam, you will have five minutes to upload your answer.

Exams will still be scored on the traditional scale of 1-5, although there will be no sub scores for exams like Calculus BC and Music Theory.

To reduce cheating, plagiarism detection tools will be used, and questions will also be chosen that make it more difficult to copy another person’s work.

You can see the format of each AP exam by checking out the College Board’s AP website and clicking on the specific exam you’re interested in. There you will see the format of the exam, and the types of question you will be asked.

What Is the 2020 AP Schedule?

2020 AP exams will take place from May 11 to May 22. Be careful to note when your exams start as this will depend on the time zone, you are in (and it may mean some early mornings if you live in Hawaii). Deadlines for portfolio AP classes are explained below the schedule. Makeup exams will take place in early June.

Week 1 AP Schedule (2020)

Time Slot 1

Hawaii Time: 6:00AM

Alaska Time: 8:00AM

Pacific Time: 9:00AM

Mountain Time: 10:00AM

Central Time: 11:00AM

Eastern Time: 12:00PM

Greenwich Mean Time: 4:00PM

Time Slot 2

Hawaii Time: 8:00AM

Alaska Time: 10:00AM

Pacific Time: 11:00AM

Mountain Time: 12:00PM

Central Time: 1:00PM

Eastern Time: 2:00PM

Greenwich Mean Time: 6:00PM

Time Slot 3

Hawaii Time: 10:00AM

Alaska Time: 12:00PM

Pacific Time: 1:00PM

Mountain Time: 2:00PM

Central Time: 3:00PM

Eastern Time: 4:00PM

Greenwich Mean Time: 8:00PM

Monday, May 11

Physics C: Mechanics Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism United States Government and Politics

Tuesday, May 12

Latin Calculus AB

Calculus BC

Human Geography

Wednesday, May 13

Physics 2: Algebra-Based English Literature and Composition European History

Thursday, May 14

Spanish Literature and Culture Chemistry Physics 1: Algebra-Based

Friday, May 15

Art History United States History Computer Science A

Week 2 AP Schedule (2020)

Time Slot 1

Hawaii Time: 6:00AM

Alaska Time: 8:00AM

Pacific Time: 9:00AM

Mountain Time: 10:00AM

Central Time: 11:00AM

Eastern Time: 12:00PM

Greenwich Mean Time: 4:00PM

 

Time Slot 2

Hawaii Time: 8:00AM

Alaska Time: 10:00AM

Pacific Time: 11:00AM

Mountain Time: 12:00PM

Central Time: 1:00PM

Eastern Time: 2:00PM

Greenwich Mean Time: 6:00PM

Time Slot 3

Hawaii Time: 10:00AM

Alaska Time: 12:00PM

Pacific Time: 1:00PM

Mountain Time: 2:00PM

Central Time: 3:00PM

Eastern Time: 4:00PM

Greenwich Mean Time: 8:00PM

Monday, May 18

Chinese Language and Culture Biology Environmental Science

Tuesday, May 19

Music Theory Psychology Japanese Language and Culture

Italian Language and Culture

Wednesday, May 20

German Language and Culture English Language and Composition Microeconomics

Thursday, May 21

French Language and Culture World History: Modern Macroeconomics

Friday, May 22

Comparative Government and Politics Statistics Spanish Language and Culture

Portfolio-Based AP Classes

Portfolio deadlines have been extended for AP Art and Design courses, AP Seminar, AP Research, and AP Computer Science. Portfolios are now due on May 26, 2020 at 11:59PM ET. As a reminder, portfolio requirements for these classes have also been reduced.

Will Colleges Still Accept These AP Scores?

Because these AP exams are so different from normal AP exams, some students are concerned that, even if they score high on the test, schools won’t give them college credit for their scores or see them as impressive as they normally would.

However, the College Board has stated that colleges support their solution and will ensure students still receive college credit for high AP scores from this year’s tests. There is also a precedent for this, as previously small groups of students have taken shortened AP exams due to emergency situations, and colleges have still accepted their scores.

It is not surprising colleges are happy to accept these AP scores the same way they do past years’ scores. Colleges generally do not penalize students for circumstances beyond their control, and the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked on education systems is one of those circumstances. Colleges understand how difficult it is/will be to teach, learn, and test online, and they do not want to give students another hurdle to overcome by not accepting their AP scores.

Some schools may have students complete additional requirements, such as taking college-administered exams in certain subjects to double-check their knowledge in AP subjects they took, but we expect most (if not all) schools to accept these scores the way they would any other AP scores.

How Can You Prepare for AP Tests During the Coronavirus?

Just because these AP exams will be shorter and taken at home does not mean they will be easy. Most students say the free-response questions are the hardest part of any AP test, and you can bet the exam administrators are being careful to choose questions you cannot easily answer just by flipping through your notes. You should also expect there to be some time pressure and the need to work quickly to answer all the questions in time. You should take these AP exams as seriously as you would regular AP tests. And that will likely require studying.

Fortunately, the College Board is coming to the rescue again to help you prep for AP tests. Beginning March 25, they will offer free, live AP classes given by AP teachers. These classes are optional, and you can watch them anytime once they’re up on the AP YouTube channel. You can also check out the daily schedule of videos for different AP courses.

Beyond the College Board’s videos and your teacher’s resources, there are other ways to prepare for AP exams.

You should absolutely take practice tests to prepare for the AP exams (although you only need to worry about free-response questions this year). The College Board has past free-response questions available online for almost all AP exams; Google “AP [course name] College Board free response questions” to find them.

Review books are also one of the most useful resources for scoring high on AP tests. You can check out reviews on Amazon

Even with shutdowns and school closures caused by COVID-19, AP exams are still going on this year, albeit with major changes. For 2020, AP exams will be taken online and at home, last 45 minutes, and consist only of free-response questions. Despite their abbreviated length, these tests will still be challenging, and we highly recommend preparing seriously for them. You can use the College Board’s new online resources, as well as our guides and other outside materials.

What’s Next?

AP exams are not the only tests being impacted by the coronavirus.

Fortunately, your AP exam scores will still be accepted by colleges this year.

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