What The 2020 AP Exam Changes Mean For Students

We break down the most recent AP Exam changes from the College Board

What The 2020 AP Exam Changes Mean For Students

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has caused major changes for high school students, from the shift to online learning to cancelling ACT and SAT exam administrations. However, in a small glimmer of good news, the College Board will move forward with AP Exams, which reward students who have worked hard in AP courses this year. The College Board says that the majority of colleges will award credit for the 2020 AP Exams (source: College Board). If you have more questions about what these changes mean, you’re not alone. Read on for answers to some of the most common questions. 

When will the exams take place? 

Exams will begin on May 11, one week after the original exam start date. Students will test at specified times between May 11 and May 22, with makeup exams schedule between June 1 and June 5. 

What differences will there be on the exam itself?

The 2020 AP Exams will have some major differences from past years. Each exam will be 45 minutes long and be taken online. The exams will be open-note and only cover topics taught through early March. There will not be a multiple-choice section; the exams will consist of one or two free-response questions (FRQs). Students will test on a device they have access to (computer, tablet, or smartphone) and can upload typed responses or write responses by hand and submit a photo from their cell phone. Scores will still be reported on a 1–5 scale. 

For more details about the units tested and format of FRQs for each subject, visit the College Board’s AP Coronavirus Updates page.  

Can students test with accommodations? 

According to the College Board’s FAQs, students with approved accommodations will be able to use those for this year’s AP Exams.

How can students prepare? 

The more comfortable students are with the format of this year’s exam and the units tested, the better prepared they will be for test day. Here are some tips to help students get ready: 

  • Check out our Tips and Tricks from tutors for AP Biology, Calculus AB and BC, Chemistry, Language and Composition, Physics 1, Spanish, US History, and World History. 
  • Prep in a Small Group Class: Join one of Private Prep’s courses to prep for the AP Biology, Calculus AB, Chemistry, Physics, World History, or US History exams. Registration closes Friday, April 10. 
  • Review the units* that will be on the test. Even though the test won’t have a multiple-choice section, practicing multiple-choice questions is still a good way to review content. 
  • Organize your notes so that they are easy to read and search. Since the exam is open-note this year, higher quality notes will be an advantage. 
  • Practice FRQs from previous years’ exams on the College Board website. Click your class name, go to “The Exam,” and scroll to “Exam Questions and Scoring Information.” You’ll also find sample responses and scoring guidelines.  
  • Check out the College Board’s Online Classes and Review Sessions on their YouTube page. 
  • *View the AP Units Tested By Subject grid here.

Things are changing quickly, so we will keep you as updated as possible. As always, we are here to help. Contact us if you have any questions.

Becky McGlensey