AP Tests and AP Scores in the Time of Corona

By Susanna de Chenonceau, M.Ed.

April 7, 2020

Hello students and parents! I hope that you are all staying safe and well during these unique times.

Instead of cancelling or postponing the AP exams this year, the CollegeBoard has reduced the exam length, made them available only online, and postponed them by a week. AP exams are still taking place May 11-22, 2020, Monday through Friday, during the school day.

Here is how to navigate these changes:

  • All AP classes are available online on YouTube’s AP Channel
  • Each exam will now be 45 minutes — check CollegeBoard
  • You will take the exams from home
  • There will be no multiple choice–only Free Response Questions
  • Exams are open book and note
  • You will only be tested on content covered up to March
  • Only students already registered by March 13 can take these exams
  • ALWAYS remember to ask for fee waivers if finances are a problem
  • Format guides and tutorial prep videos will be released soon
  • You can use your accommodations if you have them
  • Anti-cheating measures are being put into place

As for studying:

  • Work on time management by practicing many times with a timer
  • Familiarize yourself with the format so you are ready and have seen it many times before test day arrives
  • ORGANIZE your notes because looking for facts and dates will cost you precious minutes you WILL NOT have

Prepare your testing space (two days or at least the night before):

  • Have all of your supplies ready and laid out (pencils, pens, eraser, notes, water, timer, computer or tablet, power cords, phone for timer)
  • Check your computer and internet capabilities!
  • Charge your computer and phone. Have power cords already plugged in at your desk. BE PREPARED.
  • Get a timer ready
  • Have no dog in the room or the dog right beside you, as preferred
  • Tape a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door with the times listed and a “Thank You” at the bottom
  • Have a sweater, jacket or hoodie ready in case you get chilly
  • Wash your hands. Just because. 🙂
  • Arrange a decent chair and a good writing surface

Prepare your family in advance:

  • Remind your fellow Team Lockdown members that tomorrow is a big day for you and that you will need quiet during that time.
  • Identify ways that everyone can help to make this happen.
  • Identify possible problems that could arise–troubleshoot these now
  • NOBODY CAN BE ON THE INTERNET EXCEPT YOU DURING THE ENTIRE TESTING TIME. All wi-fi on all phones must be turned off.
  • Have a clear, written plan for the testing day and display the schedule
  • Review this plan at dinner the night before
  • Do not agree to eat any sugary substance on the morning of the test. You need protein before a big brain day, not carbs or sugar. And you need water, not juice (sugar) or coffee (unless you always drink coffee and that is your norm–but hey, aren’t you a bit young for that? Let’s talk later…)
  • Should your cohabitants not comply with Operation Quiet House, or should anything go wrong, *do not panic*. Do your best in the test time and then call your teacher immediately after the test and tell what happened with your baby brother, Mom’s job, grocery delivery guy, etc etc.

It remains to be seen exactly how the scoring will transpire, given that the exams are completely new and have never been tested. It also remains to be seen if the colleges will value or give the same weight and thus credit to these exams, though some have said that they will still honor the scores as they have in years past.

Whatever the case, it is still a good idea for you to continue working toward this goal and to that end you can use the free AP classes posted on the CollegeBoard site. It’s good to have goals and structure right now, so proceed as planned. It will build more schedule and checkpoints into your days.

There are makeup days scheduled for those who have technical difficulties, but run your tech checks prior and plan to take the exams in May, because I would wonder if those makeup exams might be scored more harshly, given the later date. You can’t take the test on both dates, nor can you just take some in May and then some in June. You will need to demonstrate very good reasons, likely vouched for by your school counselor, about why you might be testing in June. I would avoid it.

As for reporting or sending AP scores to colleges:

Seniors applying to college in the Fall only LIST (do not pay to send) good scores on your college applications (4s and 5s, maybe a 3). This does not cost any money because you are only listing them on the applications, not paying to send them anywhere at this time.

THEN in the Spring, when you have chosen a college and paid your deposit, then, if the college will accept your AP credit in July after graduation (graduation will happen, at some point and in some way!) THEN you log onto CollegeBoard and pay to send your official AP scores to your chosen college. This can save you thousands of dollars, yes, BUT, you must consider:

  • Was this class super easy for me and I would be thankful to skip taking an accelerated version of level one of this class during my college freshman year? (College classes are more difficult than high school classes).
  • Do I want to go directly into the advanced second level of this subject in the first year when I am adjusting to college?

Remember that your freshman year GPA is the most important mathematically in high school AND in college, because of the Law of Averages. It is the most powerful. So protect your freshman year. If you need to save the money, then by all means, use the AP credit. If the cost of the one class is worth paying for so that you can protect your GPA, then don’t send the AP scores to colleges. Particularly if you want to apply to Med School, you need a VERY, VERY high GPA, so “re-taking” a class freshman year instead of moving ahead to the tougher level can be a big help.

I know it’s a lot to think about, so feel free to post any questions in the Forum on CollegeMapper and I will happily answer them.

You got this, kid!

Yay, college!



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