COVID-19 Changes to Advanced Placement Exams

COVID-19 AP Exam Info

In response to the suspension of in-person learning and the closure of schools for the 2020 AP Exam session, the College Board has decided to move to an online in-home exam format. The exams will be 45 minutes in duration and will consist of only Free Response Questions (FRQs) and no multiple choice. The tests will include content covered through March which equates to approximately 3/4 of the course content.

Test dates and format for each subject are found here. Exams are open-book / open-note. Questions will require more than simple recall; they will resist being answered with a simple Google search.

Students must have registered for an AP exam with Ms. Caines by March 13th in order to take the exam. For the vast majority of Totems, registration was done in early October in the library computer lab. Students may not decide now that a 45 minute exam is appealing and sign up to take it. You can confirm your registration here.

Universities and colleges will award course credit for AP scores as with previous years. This is not the first time the College Board has offered 45-minute exam times for students in extenuating circumstances, but this is the largest session of online exams the College Board has hosted. The College Board will provide video tutorials and online simulations of the computer-based AP Exam (details TBA). The College Board will also provide a guide in a few weeks with more details about how the test will be administered.

How Current AP Students Should Apply This Information

Students should plan to take their AP Exam(s) on the primary test date in May. Makeup dates are provided in June for students who run into technical issues on the primary test date or have genuine conflicts with the primary date. Security measures will be put in place to prevent students from taking the test on both dates.

Students should practice time management. Exams will consist of 2 FRQs: a 25 minute question and a 15 minute question. Exact details of the layout of each exam can be found here and listed under ‘Course-Specific Exam Information.’

Get organized! With an open-book / open-note test, memorization takes a bit of a backseat. The test is still only 45 minutes long, so memorization perhaps takes more of a passenger seat. For the student who struggles to remember the specifics of a particular physics formula, an open-note test takes some pressure off of memorization. Students just need to organize their materials so that information they will need can be found quickly. Use post-it tabs, sticky notes, etc. The College Board provides additional tips and advice here.

Check the College Board’s FAQs. Among other things, find out what kinds of materials are permitted as “open-note.”

Read the information about the subject exam! This information should guide students on things like the following:

  • For some tests (e.g. calculus, sciences), students might be more comfortable handwriting responses. College Board will provide a tip sheet “in advance of the exam” for typing mathematical expressions on a standard keyboard. Try both methods, typing and handwriting, to determine which is better for you.

Focus on analysis. See above re: questions will require more than simple recall. Use recent FRQs as a guide. Each AP course exam page provides sample FRQs.

Finally, focus on what you know.

You know which Units need review. You know there will be no multiple-choice or simple fact-recall questions. But the number of unknowns around this year’s APs may feel unsettling. That’s OK. Remember that everyone is in the same boat; students all throughout the district, the province, the nation, and worldwide are facing the same challenges. Your AP teacher is your best source of course content and information and can provide you with examples of FRQs from previous exams. Ms. Caines is your best source of AP programming and exam information (but she cannot help you on those super tough Calculus and physics questions, because she doesn’t even understand them!) and we are here to help! Don’t hesitate to email any questions you have; we’ll do our best to figure it out together.

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