Digital AP Exams Begin Tuesday—Here Are Important Things Students Should Know

The Vast Majority of AP Students Plan to Take Their Opportunity to Earn Credit and Placement

The 2021 AP Exam administration has started for millions of hard-working students who want the opportunity to earn college credit and placement. Traditional paper-and-pencil AP Exams began on May 3 and digital AP Exams begin tomorrow, May 18. In a recent survey, about 90% of AP students said they plan to test this spring.

To help meet the needs of schools and their students during the pandemic, the AP Program provided as much flexibility as possible when developing this year’s exams. Schools decided when and how to test their students from among the available AP Exam administration options.

Most schools have chosen to administer in-school paper-and-pencil exams. For schools that were unable to, or for students who were unable to test in-person, full-length digital AP Exams are available in most subjects. Most colleges have taught complete classes this year, so AP credit and placement depends on AP Exams covering the same scope of content.

In February, the AP Program provided details about the 2021 exam schedule and format. In early March, the AP Program shared extensive information about how to prepare for exam with students and educators. In early April, the digital testing app was released. Some of these details include:

  • Before exam day students should:
    • Download and install the application, practice, and set up for their exams on the device they will use to test.
    • Complete exam setup, which loads their exam on their testing computer, 1-3 days before each exam they are taking.
    • Remember to check their device—students can only test on a laptop or desktop computer (Mac, Windows, or school-managed Chromebook). A managed device means the student’s school or district controls the programs that are installed.
  • On exam day student should:
    • Check in 30 minutes before the start of their digital exam.
    • Know that the testing application keeps them from losing their work, even if their internet goes out.
    • Remember that their responses can only be entered directly into the testing app; there will not be any handwritten responses on digital exams.
  • Students will be able to take a free makeup exam if they experience an unavoidable test disruption.

All students have access to free AP Daily videos and AP Daily Live Review sessions. AP Daily has over 26 million full video views since September 2020, and AP Daily Live Review sessions are available on YouTube. Students are encouraged to talk with their teachers about the best ways to practice before their exam.

The benefits are clear for students who take AP courses and exams, and primary is the opportunity to earn college credit during high school. Most 4-year colleges and universities in the United States—as well as many institutions in more than 100 other countries—grant credit, placement, or both for qualifying AP Exam scores. This means students can save time, money, and get a head start on their education when they enter college with credit they deserve through AP.

While colleges will award credit and placement for scores of 3 or higher, as they have in previous years, new research shows that just participating in an AP course and completing an exam advances students. Regardless of their score, they have shown colleges they are ready to complete a college-level course.