How AP Tests Are Changing

How AP Tests Are Changing

On Friday, Apr. 3, the College Board released an update detailing changes in the 2020 AP Exam Schedule due to the novel coronavirus. A previous update announced that all testing would be conducted online, there would be no multiple choice portion and that material covered on exams would be limited to what most schools would have covered by mid-March while the new update provided more clarity on how online testing will function. 

Major changes covered on the Apr. 3 update include:

  • Testing schedule will take place Monday May 11 through Friday May 22 (pushed back one week from their original schedule)
  • Testing time slots in Central Time will be 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.
  • Makeup test dates will be June 1-5
  • All tests are considered open book/open note
  • For most exams, the test will be 45 minutes long, plus an additional 5 minutes for uploading 
  • On the day of the exams, students should access the online testing system 30 minutes early to get set up

For a detailed schedule visit

While the College Board has had a swift and comprehensive response to the major restrictions that have occured in the past few weeks due to COVID-19, not all changes will benefit the students.

For starters, open note testing may not be as great as it first appears. Like many colleges and universities, the College Board decided to make online testing open book in order to maintain academic integrity, and not to make the test easier for students. As a result, the College Board is specifically designing this year’s questions with the understanding that students are using notes, meaning that points will not be earned from content that can be directly pulled from textbooks or online. Instead questions will most likely not cover the who, what and when of subjects and focus instead on the why and how. With higher level questioning, students may encounter a different style of question from the ones typically practiced in class. However, for students that feel this testing style is not for them, they can choose to not “sit in” the exam up until the exam day for a full refund.

Second, not all colleges will accept this year’s exam credit. With all the changes occurring to the material covered and style of testing, it is still up in the air as to whether colleges will view the exam as equivalent credit. For freshmen through juniors, there isn’t much that can be done about this, but seniors should contact their future schools about their policy. 

Furthermore, while the extra week before testing gives students and teachers more time to prepare, this scheduling could get complicated if school were to resume. Graduation is scheduled to be Wednesday May 20, right in the middle of the second week of testing. So for some seniors, they will be testing the day of, or a few days after graduation. Most likely, graduation would be rescheduled, but right now that is still unknown.  

Lasty, in order to keep questions from being published online, hundreds of thousands of students throughout the world will be logging in at the same time to take each test. Given that this is the first time AP has had to administer online testing at such a grand scale, the possibility of the site crashing combined with the timed aspect of the exam could hinder a student’s performance.