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Overview of 2020 AP Exams

On March 20th, the College Board announced that the May AP exams will be moved online due to COVID-19 concerns. Trevor Packer, head of the AP program, announced new exam dates and details about the all-online AP exams in a video uploaded to the AP Program website. You can find the full update here and the revised exam schedule here. We’ve summarized the major changes coming to AP exams this year, along with tips about how to prepare for these tests and achieve your best score.

Students will take their AP exams online from a home computer

As usual, the exams will be administered across several days in May. However, to help accommodate overlapping test dates, technical difficulties, or other conflicts, each exam will also be administered on a make-up date in June. Students will need approval from their AP coordinator if they need to test on the second date. Some AP courses, like 2D Art and Design and Computer Science Principles, don’t end with an exam, but with a portfolio submission. The portfolio submission deadline has been extended to May 26th.

Students who do not have access to a laptop, mobile device, or internet connectivity should reach out to the College Board for support using this link.

  • TIP: Log on 30 minutes before the scheduled exam time to make sure you’re able to access the testing platform. Time management will be as important as ever, and you don’t want to feel stressed and rushed.
The tests are shorter in length and narrower in scope

Because many students are missing valuable instruction time, the revised AP exams will not feature content from the end of each course syllabus. As a result, the exams will be shorter in length: about 45 minutes rather than the usual 2 to 3 hours. Most of the exams will feature two short-response questions. In most cases, students will have 25 minutes to answer one question, 5 minutes to upload their response, then 15 minutes to answer the second question. Students will be able to enter their answers directly into the testing platform, type them up and submit them later, or take a picture of handwritten responses and send them in for grading.

Most of the AP exams will feature this format and timing; however, Language, Literature, and History exams will be slightly different. See the chart below for details on each exam subject. 

  • TIP: Break your study sessions into 45-minute chunks to get a feel for the timing; when answering practice questions, keep your writing time to about 15-25 minutes to mimic the test day experience. You can download practice questions for each exam on AP Central
The tests are open-book (but that doesn’t make them easier!)

All the AP exams will be open-book, since you’ll be testing from home, and most of the exams will feature several open-response questions. However, that does not mean that you should be looking up answers during the test. These AP exams aren’t focusing on facts and dates; the test questions will require knowledge and comprehension that you simply won’t have time to acquire during the test. Remember, these are very short tests: the quicker you get to writing and justifying your answer, the better shot you have at achieving your best score.

  • TIP: Pretend that you are only allowed one sheet of notes (front and back) and then make a study sheet beforehand, in whatever form works best for you: outline, bullet-point, question-and-answer, or concept map. This is a great study strategy for several reasons: 
    • It causes you to actively engage your notes, not just passively read them, which makes the information easier to remember when you need it on test day. 
    • It forces you to think carefully about the material and determine what is important, which will help you with both comprehension and time management. 
    • If you do need to consult your notes, you’ll be able to do so much faster. 

As you’re working to review all your notes and materials, you don’t have to do it alone. Applerouth is offering live online AP Review Sessions with our expert instructors starting next week.

Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you don’t have to be test-ready! 

It’s always a smart idea to give yourself lots of study time, and that idea just got smarter, given all of the changes happening this year. It’s also important to gather your materials the day before Test Day. The College Board encourages students to make sure that they have everything they need before their scheduled exam time; this includes calculators, equation sheets (which you can download from the course pages on AP Central), pencils, textbooks, and notes. You may not have to pack your bookbag the night before, but you should set aside your materials in a place you can easily access the morning of the test. You should also create a testing space for yourself that’s comfortable (but not in bed!) and separate from the hustle and bustle of your family.

The table below summarizes the details of each test. More information can be found on the official exam schedule page here.

Courses
Units Covered
Units NOT covered
Exam question type
Art and Design: 2D Portfolio

Portfolio due May 26
N/A N/A Selected Works: 3 works required (instead of 5) to be submitted digitally; Sustained Investigation: 10 images required (instead of 15), also submitted digitally
Art and Design: 3D Portfolio
Portfolio due May 26
N/A N/A Selected Works: 3 works required (instead of 5) to be submitted digitally + Sustained Investigation: 10 images required (instead of 15), also submitted digitally
Art and Design: Drawing
Portfolio due May 26
N/A N/A Selected Works: 3 works required (instead of 5) to be submitted digitally + Sustained Investigation: 10 images required (instead of 15), also submitted digitally
Art History
May 15, Jun 3
Units 1-6 Units 7-10 2 Questions: one long essay comparing two works of art and one short essay analyzing how a work represents continuity and change
Biology
May 18, Jun 3
Units 1-6 Units 7-8 2 Questions: one presenting a scenario with data, another with a scenario focusing on disruption
Calculus AB
May 12, Jun 1
Units 1-7 Unit 8 2 Questions: each tests students’ knowledge and skills developed in 2 or more of the eight eligible units/topics. Calculators are not required but may be helpful. Students encouraged to submit “unsimplified” numeric answers
Calculus BC
May 12, Jun 1
Units 1-8 + 5 topics in Unit 10 (10.2, 10.5, 10.7, 10.8, and 10.11) Unit 9, Unit 10 (except Topics 10.2, 10.5, 10.7, 10.8, and 10.11) 2 Questions: each tests students’ knowledge and skills developed in 2 or more of the eight eligible units/topics.
Calculator not required but may be helpful. Students encouraged to submit “unsimplified” numeric answers
Chemistry
May 14, Jun 2
Units 1-7 Units 8-9 2 Questions: both test students’ ability to analyze a chemical system (similar in structure to standard long Chem FRQs)
Chinese Language and Culture
May 18, Jun 3
Units 1-4 Units 5-6 2 Questions: one interpersonal speaking task and one presentational speaking task
Computer Science A
May 15, Jun 3
Units 1-7 Units 8-10 2 Questions: one on ArrayLists, and one on Methods & Control Structures. Students are allowed to use an IDE, but the College Board explicitly says this won’t help.
Computer Science Principles
Portfolio due May 26
No end-of-course exam No end-of-course exam Explore Task + Create Task only; no multiple-choice exam
Economics – Macro
May 21, Jun 5
Units 1-5 Unit 6 2 Questions: the first is the equivalent of 2 short free responses, while the second is one long free response
Economics – Micro
May 20, Jun 4
Units 1-5 Unit 6 2 Questions: the first is the equivalent of 2 short free responses, while the second is one long free response
English Language and Composition
May 20, Jun 4
Units 1-7 Units 8-9 One question that asks students to read a nonfiction prose passage (600-800 words) and write an essay analyzing the writer’s rhetorical choices.
English Literature and Composition
May 13, Jun 2
Units 1-7 Units 8-9 One question that asks students to read a prose passage (500-700 words) and respond to a prompt with a well-supported thesis. 
Environmental Science
May 18, Jun 3
Units 1-7 Units 8-9 2 Questions: design an investigation and analyze an environmental problem
European History
May 13, Jun 2
Units 1-7 Units 8-9 One Modified DBQ with 5 documents
French Language and Culture
May 21, Jun 5
Units 1-4 Units 5-6 2 Questions: one interpersonal speaking task (Conversation) and one presentational speaking task (Cultural Comparison).
German Language and Culture
May 20, Jun 4
Units 1-4 Units 5-6 2 Questions: one interpersonal speaking task (Conversation) and one presentational speaking task (Cultural Comparison).
Government and Politics: Comparative
May 22, Jun 5
Units 1-3 Units 4-5 2 Questions which correspond to the traditional FRQ 4 and FRQ 2.
Government and Politics: U.S.
May 11, Jun 1
Units 1-3 Units 4-5 2 Questions: the first asks students to respond to a question with a thesis defended with evidence from the supporting documents, while the second asks students to explain the effects of political institutions within a provided, authentic scenario.
Human Geography
May 12, Jun 1
Units 1-5 Units 6-7 2 free response questions
Italian Language and Culture
May 19, Jun 4
Units 1-4 Units 5-6 2 Questions: one interpersonal speaking task (Conversation) and one presentational speaking task (Cultural Comparison).
Japanese Language and Culture
May 19, Jun 4
Units 1-4 Units 5-6 2 Questions: one interpersonal speaking task (Conversation) and one presentational speaking task (Cultural Comparison).
Latin
May 12, Jun 1
Units 1-4 Units 5-8 2 short-answer components: the first presents two passages from the required Caesar and Vergil texts and asks a series of questions, while the second asks students to read a Vergil passage at sight and asks a series of questions.
Music Theory
May 19, Jun 4
Units 1-6 Units 7-8 2 Questions: the first consists of part-writing from figured bass and part-writing from Roman numerals, while the second tests your sight-singing.
Physics 1
May 14, Jun 2
Units 1-7 Units 8-10 2 Questions: the first is a long Qualitative/Quantitative Translation, while the second is a paragraph-length short answer. Calculators are not required but may be helpful. Print your equation sheet ahead of time.
Physics 2
May 13, Jun 2
Units 1-5 Units 6-7 2 Questions: the first is a long Qualitative/Quantitative Translation, while the second is a paragraph-length short answer. Calculators are not required but may be helpful. Print your equation sheet ahead of time.
Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
May 11, Jun 1
Units 1-3 Units 4-5 2 Questions: the first is a long ‘analyze-and-explain’ question, while the second is a short experimental design question (see See Question 3 on the 2017 AP Physics 1 and Question 2 on the 2012 AP Physics C: Mechanics Exam respectively regarding structure, not content). Calculators are not required but may be helpful. Print your equation sheet ahead of time. 
Physics C: Mechanics
May 11, Jun 1
Units 1-5 Units 6-7 2 Questions: the first is a long ‘analyze and explain’ question, while the second is a short experimental design question (see See Question 3 on the 2017 AP Physics 1 and Question 2 on the 2012 AP Physics C: Mechanics Exam respectively regarding structure, not content). Calculators are not required but may be helpful. Print your equation sheet ahead of time.
Psychology
May 19, Jun 4
Units 1-7 Units 8-9 2 Questions: the first asks students to explain behavior and apply theories, while the second tests students’ ability to analyze research methods.
Research
Portfolio due May 26
N/A N/A Academic Paper only (no presentation)
Seminar
Portfolio due May 26
No end-of-course exam No end-of-course exam Individual Research Report + Individual Written Argument only (no team or individual presentations or end-of-course exam)
Spanish Language and Culture
May 22, Jun 5
Units 1-4 Units 5-6 2 Questions: one interpersonal speaking task (Conversation) and one presentational speaking task (Cultural Comparison).
Spanish Literature and Culture
May 14, Jun 2
Units 1-6 Units 7-8 2 Questions which correspond to the traditional FRQ 4 and FRQ 2: the first asks students to analyze how authors present a theme in a required reading and a fragment of a nonrequired text, while the second asks students to compare how a theme is presented in a required text fragment and a work of visual art.
Statistics
May 22, Jun 5
Units 1-7 Units 8-9 2 Questions: each tests students’ knowledge and skills developed in 2 or more of the seven eligible units/topics. Calculators are not required but may be helpful. There is no longer an investigative task.
U.S. History
May 15, Jun 3
Units 1-7 Units 8-9 One Modified DBQ with 5 documents
World History: Modern
May 21, Jun 5
Units 1-6 Units 7-9 One Modified DBQ with 5 documents

 


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  • BenTallbot

    My little brother will be taking the test at home this year. He’s really excited about it because he thinks he can cheat.
    I remember my test and how nervous I was and how much I prepared. Now I think that today’s students underestimate its difficulty.
    Thank you for explaining how the process will go. I think I can make my brother take it more seriously.