Modifications to the 2020 AP Exams: Presented by the College Board and Commented on by Students


Photo Credit: Eric Coestad

As schools across the US continue to close due to the coronavirus, many students taking AP courses have wondered how AP exams will be administered at the end of the year. The classes and tests are managed by the College Board, which means that changes in the administration of the exams comes directly from them. 

Luckily, the College Board has been thinking about this issue as well. Soon after schools began to close, they released an update about the AP exams stating that they would be conducting the tests online. According to the College Board, 91% of AP students across the country reported that they still want to take their AP tests and have the opportunity to earn college credit. However, the College Board acknowledged that this would be difficult for certain AP courses, such as Studio Art and Computer Science Principles, and shifted from having a combined score based on a portfolio and written exam to just a portfolio.

The newly updated tests are 45 minutes long and will lean towards more free-response and critical thinking questions. The AP tests will also be adapted to include only materials that the class had learned before March. The exams will be open notes, meaning that students can use their personal notes and class resources when taking the test. However, any form of communication with other students or instructors is considered cheating and may result in the disqualification of the students’ score. According to the College Board, they will implement plagiarism detection tools in order to ensure that students are generating their own answers. In addition, they have said that they are designing this test to specifically prevent cheating and increase test security. 

To help students prepare for the AP exams, the College Board is providing online classes and resources. There is a set schedule for the times that students can virtually attend online classes and the recordings of these classes can be found on YouTube. Other review resources can be found on the College Board website. 

Despite the College Board’s desire to integrate the new tests as seamlessly as possible, students have many concerns about the upcoming tests. One issue students have with the new tests is the possibility for internet disruption. For the students who do not have access to a computer or internet, the College Board advises those students to contact them individually. However, what happens if the internet crashes during the test? The College Board has yet to address how they will deal with these mishaps if they occur during the test. Another concern that students have is centered around the testing time. There are thousands of international students taking AP exams all over the world. In order to protect the tests’ security, the test has to be given at a certain time, globally. This either means that, for example, students in San Francisco take the AP exam at 9 AM and students in Shanghai will take the same exam at 3 AM. Many students believe that this system disadvantages international test takers.

Over the coming months, the College Board will continue to update students and teachers on how the 2020 AP tests will be conducted. In their most recent updates, they have said that in late April, they will release more information on the test structure and submission. The exams will be taken between May 11th and May 22nd, and each subject will have two different options for when the students can take the test. However, the College Board acknowledges that some of this could be subject to change as the situation develops and strongly encourages students to continue to keep up with news regarding AP exams.