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The AP Exams Have Significant Changes for Second Year in a Row

The AP Exams Have Significant Changes for Second Year in a Row
Izzy Hall

Traditionally taken the first two weeks of May, the AP Exams test students’ knowledge from their Advanced Placement classes, with the possibility of being awarded college credit for a high score. Last year, the College Board made significant chances to the AP Exams in order to accommodate the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on students, schools and curriculums. This year, the exams will look more like they have in the past, but with some notable changes.

Last year, the AP Exams were changed to a forty-five-minute free response-only test. It was an open-book exam and students could use any Internet-connected device to take the test. The other big change was the subject matter – the AP Exams of 2020 only covered the curriculum of each course up through the beginning of March. While the online exams were buggy in places, students on the whole were able to successfully take their tests and received higher-than-average scores.

The AP Exams of 2021 will look much more like the AP Exams of pre-pandemic days: tests composed of both multiple-choice and free response sections that test students on the whole of the AP course material, no notes allowed. What will change is where and when students will take the test. For the first time, almost all of the AP Exams will be offered both online and in-person. Schools will be responsible for deciding if in-person exams are safe to proctor. Likewise, the timeframe of the AP Exams has changed. In the past, tests had fixed dates and times. This year, each subject will have three different testing days so classes can be socially distanced while taking exams. This also means that the AP Exams will go on for longer than usual, beginning May 3rd and ending on June 11th.

Online and in-person exams will have identical content this year, but students interested in taking the test online should know that the process has restrictions. On an online exam, students won’t be able to go back to a question they already answered. They also won’t be able to toggle back and forth between questions they have yet to answer. Students will be required to take the exams on a laptop or computer – no smartphones or tablets allowed. Finally, they will no longer be able to submit handwritten answers.

Are you planning on taking an AP Exam this year? Check out our guide on the AP Exam and what you can expect from each subject. Be sure to try a free scholarship search as well to discover opportunities to win free money towards college costs!

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