AP Courses Redesigned For 2020


Neil Mehta

Students continue to prepare for the 2020 AP exams.

Neil Mehta and Megan Gmytrasiewicz

Last Friday, the College Board announced changes to its Advanced Placement (AP) program for the 2019-2020 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is featuring reworked AP exams and new online resources, targeted to support students unable to attend school. 

The most drastic change to this year’s AP program is the new end-of-year exams. This year’s AP exams are 45 minutes each and consist of free-response questions only. Most notably, they will all be offered online at home.

According to the College Board AP Central, “Students will be able to take these streamlined exams on any device they have access to—computer, tablet, or smartphone. Taking a photo of handwritten work will also be an option.” In addition, two different testing dates will be offered for the 2020 testing window, in order to accommodate students after nationwide school closures. 

Certain courses will be modified further. For example, the AP Computer Science Principles course will not have an end-of-course exam, and will only include an Explore and Create Task. The AP Art and Design courses will reduce the required number of works required to submit and provide students a deadline extension. The AP Research course will not require a presentation. 

To support students unable to attend class, the College Board has launched a free review class program available on the AP YouTube channel. These live-streamed review sessions will focus on the first 75% of each course’s content, as large portions of each course’s exam material are being omitted from this year’s exams. 

According to the College Board, students who have already completed the registration process for an AP exam have the ability to cancel, free of charge. The prospect of online testing initiates concern from students, especially surrounding their access to technology at home.

“The health and safety of educators and students are the AP Program’s highest priorities,” said Senior Vice President of AP Trevor Packer. “We considered canceling AP testing this year, but 91% of AP students surveyed asked we not. So we’ll invest heavily to provide optional online daily AP review classes and at-home AP testing.”

While the country is undergoing a national emergency, the College Board’s decision to modify these exams has sparked controversy in terms of testing security and accuracy. Students are skeptical of whether colleges will accept scores from these modified AP exams for credit.

In response, the College Board has said on their AP Central website that “Colleges support this solution and are committed to ensuring that AP students receive the credit they have worked this year to earn. For decades, colleges have accepted a shortened AP Exam for college credit when groups of students have experienced emergencies.”