AP testing is coming: What to know and how to prepare

The pandemic upended the way teachers prepare students and the ways exams are given. Fortunately, the AP exam comes with new options for flexibility and enhanced preparation in 2021. Here are the changes at a glance:

  • Students have the option of taking tests in school or at home due to COVID precautions.
  • There are no cancellation fees for 2021
  • Live Review sessions from April 19–29 will help students review course content and skills before exams.

College Board wants to help students out

Across the nation, 20% of students have been fully remote learning for the whole school year. The other 80% have experienced a mix of in-person and remote learning. This discrepancy has created a unique challenge for AP test administrators. In order to accommodate this situation, test administrators at College Board are offering more options for testing than ever before. 

Before you consider skipping out and attempting to logon to take the test on your own, it’s important for test-takers to understand that the AP test coordinator has to approve your request to take a test at home. This means that the teacher, counselor or principal in charge of AP testing at your school is the only one who can authorize you for testing at home. Also, don’t ask them last-minute. Plan well ahead of time and ask them for approval to test at home if you’d like to do so.

Prepare your technology

The exams can’t be taken on smartphones since typewritten free responses are required. Students will need to install the digital exam application on their computer. It’s best if students plan to use one computer throughout AP testing this year. This will not be the same digital testing platform that was used for emergency testing in spring 2020. Students will not need to install the LockDown Browser they may use for secure AP Classroom assignments. You will need a reliable internet connection to begin the test and for most of the testing session, but you will be able to continue if you lose connection temporarily. Exam setup will be available 3 days before exam day and must be completed no later than the day before exam day. Consult your school AP testing coordinator or a Hawk Education Counselor for up-to-date information.

AP digital testing guide

Digital testing includes a full-length exam that covers the same knowledge and skills as traditional paper exams. You’ll still complete both multiple choice and free response portions. College Board has published a detailed guide of how you should prepare if you are going to take an AP test digitally. You can download the full guide from College Board here. Digital testing is offered at home or in school during test administration #2 (May 18-20 and May 26-28) and during test administration #3 (June 1-3 and June 7-11). Schools can choose to mix and match between testing dates and locations, so check with your teacher to see what has been decided. Worldwide, testing will start at 12 p.m. or 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. 

Tests can be taken on laptops or desktop computers. Mobile devices are not allowed. If you have an unreliable internet connection, the good news is that although you need the internet to begin the test, if your internet momentarily drops during the test, you can continue to take the exam uninterrupted. Students with approved accommodations will still have access to those accommodations. 

Beginning on April 8, students will have access to practice questions via a digital format. These practice days will also introduce students to the digital testing format and tools available on the exam. 

The team at Hawk Education Solutions would love to help you prepare for upcoming AP testing. We are about a month away from go-time, so stay on top of important dates and try to attend review sessions virtually or in-person. Talk to one of our counselors today for valuable guidance. I’m sure you’ll do great!

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