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Couch Surfing College Search: COVID-19 and AP testing


Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

Of the many changes in the college search that the Coronavirus pandemic has introduced this year, the changes to the Advanced Placement (AP) testing program may be the most significant, and potentially lasting. Normally taken in person over several hours in May every year, each AP test will be dramatically shorter (45 minutes) and conducted online this year.


Here's a run down of what we know at this point, broken out into some FAQ's:


How will the exams be scheduled?


AP exams will NOT be on-demand, and will have set start times across multiple days from May 11-22. You can find the full schedule here. It is possible that you would have multiple AP exams on one day, although presumedly, the College Board has worked to minimize this. Makeup exams will be held from June 1-5.


How long will each test last?


45 minutes, plus an additional 5 minutes to review and upload answers, unless you have arranged for additional time, which the College Board has indicated will be automatically added. Given that the College Board is recommending that students login 30 minutes before each test to get set-up, having additional time (e.g., 1.5 time) may cause some tight timelines between tests, if a student does have back-to-back tests, so be aware and plan ahead.


How will test scoring work? Since the test is online, will we get the scores earlier?


Test scores will still be in the conventional 1-5 scale and will still be scored by college professors and AP teachers just as before. As such, you should still expect to receive your AP scores in July, just as before.


What will be covered on the test if the AP course didn't finish?


Since AP course material only covered part of the year (through February in most cases) the College Board has indicated that the AP exams will account for that. In interviews, David Coleman, the CEO of the College Board has indicated that the exams will only "cover the first three-quarters of the course material."


Will the exam be open book/open note?


Yes, students will be allowed to consult their notes and other materials, however 1) the tight timeline of the exam will make this more difficult, and 2) students will not be allowed to consult with other individuals to seek assistance. The College Board has indicated that it is prepared with stout anti-plagiarism software and other security measures to address potential cheating.


Sometimes my internet goes down; what if that happens during the exam?


The College Board has indicated that they will be sending out ways for you to test your browser and internet connection in advance of the test dates. However, if disaster strikes during the test anyway, then you would look to participate in the retest dates.


Will colleges still accept AP exam credit?


The College Board seems confident they will, however there have been no official statements from any colleges, as of the date of this post.


Recently, the ACT and the College Board (which coordinates the SAT Reasoning Test and AP program) announced that they are working on at-home versions of their flagship college entrance tests. The online AP testing program will likely serve as a bellwether for how those programs might operate. Even though the College Board has indicated that it intends to return to in-person exams next year, it is reasonable to expect that this kind of testing approach is more likely here to stay. Watch this space.

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