College Board announces plans for full length exams, multiple test dates and formats for 2021 AP tests


Photo By Emma Hutchinson

After the announcement of 2021 AP test formats, students are better able to direct their studying based on what content will be covered.

Emma Hutchinson, Mirada Staff

Last year, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic led to shortened, modified AP testing schedules and formats as everyone adjusted to stay-at-home orders and restrictions on school gatherings. On Monday, the College Board announced plans for the format of the 2021 AP tests.

This year, tests will be offered a total of three times each in a combination of the traditional in-person and digital formats. Exam dates will be offered in early and late May as well as early June.

Schools are encouraged to implement in-school testing when safe because it maximizes opportunities and security for students. The digital testing option, available for 25 courses, is intended to be used as a backup if necessitated by local safety regulations.

Digital tests would ideally be administered at school, but there is a possibility for authorized at-home testing on some exams.

All exams will be full length and cover the full range of course content given in the course and exam description. This is occurring with the aim to more accurately represent student knowledge when placing them into higher-level courses at the university level.

Should students decide that taking any given test is no longer something they want to do, all cancellation fees have been waived to provide students with the flexibility to take or not take their tests with minimal stress over financial repercussions. Students can receive a refund for cancellations after the completion of the May tests and once the AP Coordinator has been able to fully process all cancellations.

The first administration period is from May 3-7, 10-12, 14 and 17, the second administration period is from May 18-21 and 24-28 and the third administration period is from June 1-4 and 7-11, and it is up to each school when certain tests will and will not be offered to students.

The first admin period offers only traditional paper and pencil tests in schools for all 34 exams. The second period offers 34 in-school exams (half digital and half traditional) and 17 at-home digital exams. The third period also offers 34 in-school exams (25 digital and 9 traditional) and 25 at-home digital exams. 

To ensure secure testing, some tests such as foreign language exams and Music Theory will only be offered in an in-school environment, but during multiple Administrations and in multiple formats. All digital testing options will have synchronous start times, unlike last year’s staggered start times, to ensure security and equity.

Scores will be released on the normal 1-5 scale with Administration 1 and 2 scores being released in July and Administration 3 test scores will be released in August.

For AP courses with Digital Portfolio requirements such as Art, Computer Science, Seminar and Research, the submission deadline has been extended to account for delayed school start dates to May 20 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Some measures have been taken to increase the security of digital exams, whether they are taken in-school or at home.

Students will not be allowed to return to questions they have already answered or be able to move between unanswered questions during the test. The digital tests will also include security measures to prevent collaboration, unauthorized testers, or accessing additional information and will use plagiarism software to detect cheating after the fact.

Despite the abnormal style of this year’s schooling, College Board is pushing for normalcy in AP testing.