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AP Exams 2021: What You Need to Know


The College Board recently announced some updates to the way AP exams would be administered in 2021. If your student is currently planning to take an AP exam this spring, here’s what you need to know:

AP Exams Will Be Full-Length This Year

Last year, with the abrupt move to shelter-in-place in March, the makers of the AP exams had to quickly pivot to a format that would allow students to take their exams from home without opening them up to cheating. This resulted in an abridged exam that eliminated multiple choice questions and allowed for open notes.

With more time to prepare, the College Board has announced a slate of exams that will allow students to take either a traditional paper-and-pencil exam, a digital exam in-school, or a digital exam at home. All exam formats will be full-length, include multiple choice and free-response questions, and will be closed-note (as is typically the case in normal years).

Digital Exams Will Look a Little Different From Paper-and-Pencil Exams

While all tests will be full-length and cover the same content, the digital tests will have anti-cheating technology in place that will impact the way students approach the exam. This includes not being able to return to previous multiple choice questions, not answering questions that require drawing (all free-response questions must be able to be typed), and keeping a webcam turned on with a clear view of the testing area.

While almost every AP exam will be able to provide a digital version, the language exams (AP Spanish, AP French, etc.) must be taken in-person with the traditional paper-and-pencil format, as translation technology is too easily accessible.


Students May Have Exams Scheduled Across Three Different Administration Windows

Schools will have the opportunity to schedule students for AP exams in either early May, late May, or early June. This will give schools more flexibility to complete AP coursework before sitting students for their exams, promote better social distancing during testing, and prepare to ensure that students have their technology needs met if taking the digital version.

While last year students were able to opt into one of two test dates, this year students will have to wait for instruction from their school AP coordinator to find out which test date they will be assigned. This could mean that students in multiple AP courses could take a mixture of early and late tests (or digital and paper-and-pencil exams). This will vary from school to school and reflect the priorities and resources of each school.

Exam Preparation Will Be More Useful Than Ever

The great news is that students will still benefit from content review, test-taking strategies, and practice tests as they prepare for their exams, regardless of the schedule or the format of the tests. AJ Tutoring offers comprehensive AP exam preparation programs that help with all three of these core components, whether students already work with us for regular academic tutoring or just want to focus on exam prep.

Are you enrolled in an AP course and looking to maximize your readiness for test day? Please send us a message or give us a call at (650) 331-3251 or (408) 345-5200. We look forward to speaking with you!


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