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What We Know About the 2021 AP® Exams

On February 4, 2021, College Board made some important announcements about the 2021 AP Exams. The announcement was posted to their website and circulated to AP teachers.

To help keep you informed, we’ve compiled this list of everything we know about the 2021 AP Exams so far.

  1. The 2021 AP exams will be offered either in person or at home. According to College Board, schools can elect to offer in-person testing (in either pencil-and-paper or digital format) or at home in a digital format. There will be three sets of dates for the exams. The first set will be in early May, the second set will be in late May, and the final set will be in early June. Students will not be allowed to select their own dates, but will instead require the approval of an AP coordinator.
  2. The digital AP Exams must be taken on a computer, not a smartphone. Unlike the 2020 AP Exams, this year’s exams cannot be taken on a smartphone. The exam will be completed on a digital exam application that is not the same software used in 2020 and is not the same as the LockDown Browser.
  3. The digital AP Exams will not allow moving between questions. According to College Board, students cannot “return to answered questions or move back-and-forth between unanswered questions.”
  4. The AP Exams will be full-length and will cover the full curriculum. In spite of the challenges of the pandemic year, College Board has made clear that colleges will not offer credit for partial AP Exams. Therefore, all question types and topics will remain for this year’s exams. (The only exception is AP Physics 1, which will not include Units 8-10 in 2021.)
  5. Some digital exams will follow a different format from the paper-and-pencil exams. You can download our guide detailing those differences below.

  1. The online exams will not require a continuous wifi connection. According to College Board, “our testing application has been designed to be tolerant of disruptions in internet connectivity during the exam.” This means that students will not need to be concerned about having an uninterrupted connection.
  2. International students may take the digital exams at unusual hours. The College Board has indicated that the 2021 digital AP Exams, like the 2020 digital AP Exams, will “begin at the same time worldwide with synchronous section start times.”
  3. The College Board will be offering live online review sessions the week of April 19-30. But you don’t have to wait until then for free review sessions! Check out Marco Learning’s free events page for upcoming review sessions.
  4. There are no exam cancellation fees this year. This means that you don’t have to decide what you want to do about your exam now. Study as if you are going to take the exam in May, and then you will be ready for anything.
  5. The music theory and foreign language exams will not be offered in a digital format. They will only be offered as pencil-and-paper exams. This includes both the Spanish Language and Spanish Literature exams as well as French, German, Italian, Latin. (Note that Chinese and Japanese are the exception and are offered in a digital format only.)
  6. Some math and science exams will not be in a digital format in May (only in June). On the digital versions of these exams in June, students will not be allowed to submit handwritten work or use a stylus to draw symbols. They will use symbols built within the app.
  7. Some deadlines have been extended. The performance task deadlines for AP Art, Capstone (Seminar and Research), and Computer Science Principles have been extended to May 20, 2021.
  8. There is a fourth set of dates available after June 11. The dates have not yet been published by the College Board.
  9. The College Board released new pacing guides for Spring 2021. AP Teachers should check them out here.
  10. The College Board will release more information on March 2. By April, both teachers and students will be allowed to practice the digital format so that everyone is ready for test day.

We know that the 2020-21 school year has been full of LOTS of changes, and we want to be here for you to make sure you know how to navigate this year’s AP Exams. Follow us on social media and we’ll help keep you up to date on any changes as they come.

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