Rundown of this year’s virtual and in-person AP exams


Photo used with permission from Google Commons

An AP Biology book like the one that would be used to study for the AP exam awaits reading.

AP exams and how they will be administered has been a hot topic throughout the school year, especially due to College Board’s constant changes to the exams’ formats. 

For example, prior to Feb. 10, College Board stated that cameras would be necessary for virtual test takers, but later removed that requirement for reasons that are still unknown. With exams being less than a month away, students are wondering if they have learned all of the necessary material and if the formats will change any more than they already have.

There are three test dates per each exam that College Board has allowed schools to choose from and MCPS has chosen the second of the three dates. The test dates in this option range from May 18 to May 24 and are going to mainly be administered virtually for MCPS students.

However, there are a few exceptions to this. There are exams that College Board is only administering in person, which include most of the language exams and AP Music Theory. According to College Board, “AP French, German, Italian, and Spanish Language and Culture Exams must be administered in school. There isn’t a digital or at-home testing option for these exams. Students’ access to translation applications via mobile devices and other resources means that not all parts of a full-length digital exam in these subjects can be securely and fairly administered in students’ homes.”

Additionally, the AP Physics 1 exam will no longer contain any questions testing the material from units 8 to 10. According to College Board, “Starting with the 2021 exam, Units 8–10 will no longer be tested in AP Physics 1.”

For instance, APUSH won’t be having any LEQ’s on the digital exam this year.”

— Humza Sehbai

Although AP exams are being administered in both virtual and in-person settings this year, the exams will be different based on which option you decide to choose. “Digital exams won’t allow students to switch back and forth between questions on the digital exam, while in-person people students can. There are also differences in material. For instance, APUSH won’t be having any LEQ’s on the digital exam this year,” sophomore Humza Sehbai said.

The lockdown browser and not being able to go back on multiple choice questions being put in place has left students wondering if they will be able to adapt to this new format, especially because test taking strategies they have used in previous years have been thrown out of the window. “I think it’s a necessary requirement and will weed out who really paid attention this year,” freshman Jai Ahuja said.

One thing about this year’s exams that has students worried is their internet connection being stable enough to take the exam. The fear is that students will be booted out. College Board has worked to prevent this and made sure that an uninterrupted internet connection would not be required to take the exams. This feature and more can be tested through their AP app that also has practice problems for all of the subjects.