2021 AP Exams Change to Accomodate Pandemic-Era Testing


Photo courtesy of Christin Hume on Unsplash.com

Mikaeel Zohair, Staff Writer

In early February, the College Board announced major changes to the 2021 AP exams, which include more test dates and test-taking methods. These changes followed the removal of the essay from the SAT and the discontinuation of SAT II Subject Tests, which occurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since COVID-19 hit the United States in March 2020, the College Board has had to reformat AP exams. Last year, this resulted in open-note, at-home, exams with fewer questions and less time to take the tests. The College Board also adjusted the content covered on the exams to reflect what most students would have learned by March of 2020.

This year, the College Board has made a few adjustments to last year’s AP exam changes. The primary change is that most exams are now back to their full-length, three-hour-long format. Exams will cover all of the content each course typically covers.

The College Board has provided three testing dates between early May and mid-June 2021. The first and third dates offer fully paper or digital exams while the second date offers a combination of both. Each school is able to choose when their students take the exams.

The College Board has also attempted to reduce the amount of resources students are able to utilize when taking the remote format tests. For example, students are no longer able to return to toggle back and forth between questions or return to answered questions, which has generated controversy. The College Board is also requiring that all answers are submitted digitally and that tests must be taken on a computer.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced many challenges for the College Board to overcome, senior vice president Trevor Packer believes that these new changes to the AP exams provide “unprecedented flexibility” for students and teachers during the age of pandemic-era testing. While some of the changes to the AP exam have received mixed feedback from students and teachers, the changes help adapt the exams to the unique school year.