As the first half of the semester of the 2020-2021 school year comes to an end and the second half is starting, the AP exams are on many students’ minds. It’s safe to assume that they’re likely focused on reviewing the content of their AP classes and taking practice tests, but there’s one other important thing that they need to consider: how testing will be like this year.
According to the AP Central website, there will be several big changes to AP testing from last year. To start, both in-school and at-home testing will take place this year. Schools are encouraged to have in-school testing if it’s safe and practical for them to do so. As COVID-19 restrictions are still in effect throughout the country, social distancing rules will apply for in-school testing.
There will be two types of exams schools can offer: traditional paper and pencil exams and digital exams. Paper and pencil exams are only to be administered in school, while digital exams can be administered in school or taken at home. An important thing to note is that students will not be able to choose to take their digital exams at-home without getting approval from their school’s AP coordinator beforehand.
The digital exams will be much different from the ones issued last year. The College Board has updated them to cover all of the content of the respective courses and to be as similar as possible to the real deal paper and pencil exams, meaning that they’ll include both multiple-choice and free-response questions. Digital exams will not be available for all courses, however; only 25 exams can be taken digitally.
To accommodate for the technical and security issues that plagued digital AP testing last year, the College Board will be launching a new testing application for PC, Mac, and district-issued Chromebooks. Some notable features of this application include the inability to move back and forth between questions and the ability for students to resume testing if their internet connection goes down.
The 2021 exam schedule will be divided into three testing dates, which they’re calling administrations, for each course. Each administration varies in the amount of paper and pencil and digital testing taking place. Administration 1 will have all paper and pencil exams. For Administration 2, half of the exams will be paper and pencil, with the remaining half being digital. Finally, Administration 3 will feature mostly digital exams, with a few exams being paper and pencil. Schools are expected to choose the exam administration options that best suit their needs. They don’t have to pick just one specific administration or method of administering the test; they have the ability to authorize a mix of test dates and testing methods.
As for AP testing taking place at Hollywood High specifically, there are a couple of things to have in mind. Ms. Pinedo, the college counselor, said students could begin paying for their exams starting March 3, at the school’s student store after school hours. Specifically, the store will be open from 12:30 to 4:15 on Mondays and 2:30 to 4:15 on Tuesdays through Fridays. As usual, students are expected to pay $5 in cash or money orders and bring their school or government-issued IDs. The deadline to pay is April 16.
Pinedo said AP testing for Hollywood Highl will take place during Administrations 2 and 3. Students will be taking the exams digitally. In addition, she announced that she will host AP Testing Update presentations this month, with information about these presentations coming soon.
If you remember what happened with AP testing last year, you would realize just how much has changed since then. Back in 2020, concerned about the growing coronavirus pandemic, the College Board decided to cancel in-person AP testing, opting to have students take modified AP exams at home instead. These tests were much shorter than usual; they were only around 45 minutes long, covered about 75% of the content of the course, and were open book, open internet, and open note. In addition, the multiple-choice section featured in many of these exams was completely absent.
It’s understandable that they would’ve made these dramatic changes to account for the fact that teachers and students were initially struggling to adapt to distance learning. However, we’re rapidly approaching the one-year mark of being in quarantine and having distance learning. That year has given us plenty of time to adjust to this relatively unfamiliar form of learning and the College Board enough time to change the way it’s conducting AP testing. Whether it has changed for the better or worse is up to the student.
For more detailed information about AP testing this year, visit the AP Central page regarding AP 2021 updates. If you are scheduled to take any number of AP exams this year, we wish you the best of luck!