AP exams: 2021 contingency testing updates

Updated February 7, 2021

Now that SAT Subject Tests have been scrapped, students may be more eager than ever to find out what this year's AP exams will look like.

The College Board recently shared more details. Contingency plans for 2021 include an expanded testing schedule as well as online, at-home exams in cases where in-person testing is not possible.

Here's what we know about the latest updates.

Expanded testing schedule

To provide flexibility to schools that need more instructional time before testing, the College Board has released an expanded 2021 exam schedule.

The expanded schedule includes a total of three testing dates for each subject. The first testing date for each subject will be an in-school, paper-and-pencil administration.

  • Administration 1:
    • May 3-17
    • Paper exams only
    • In-school testing only
  • Administration 2:
    • May 18-28
    • Paper and digital testing options
    • In-school and at-home testing options
  • Administration 3:
    • June 1-11
    • Paper and digital testing options
    • In-school and at-home testing options

All exams will still be full-length tests and cover the full course content.

Note: Schools will decide which testing dates and formats to offer.

Online, at-home testing options

If students are unable to test in person—due to school closures or other coronavirus-related risks—they'll be able to take full-length contingency exams from home.

Like last year, students will complete the contingency exams online. In 2020, students completed their AP exams by logging in from their computers, phones, or other devices at home. Thousands of students faced technical issues, so the College Board plans to make adjustments for this year's exams.

  • Exams must be taken on desktop or laptop computers (no smartphones or tablets this year).
  • No handwritten or photographed work will be accepted. For that reason, the College Board plans to adapt FRQs so that responses can be easily typed with a computer keyboard.

More information on specific exam formats can be found here.

Unlike last year, the plan is for this year's contingency exams to be full-length tests. AP exams in 2020 were abbreviated versions of the tests that excluded multiple-choice questions and eliminated content from the end of the year. The good news about full-length tests is that students will not need to change their approaches to studying; the scope of content included on each exam should remain the same.

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About Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

As one of the highest-performing tutors in ArborBridge’s history, Erin coaches tutors and develops tools and trainings to disrupt old habits and empower new strengths. With a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University, Erin worked as a classroom teacher and student services director prior to joining ArborBridge in 2017. Her decade of success as an educator has prepared her to ensure that programs are tailored to individual students’ needs.

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