Get Ready, APs Are Going Digital

Jed Applerouth, PhD
May 8, 2024
min read
student takes a test on a computer

Now that the College Board has successfully migrated the SAT from paper to a digital format, the AP exams are next in line. Last year 3,600 high schools voluntarily administered 320,000 digital AP exams out of the roughly 5.2 million total exams administered. Starting in May 2025, digital administration will be the only option for nine of the 39 APs. Many of the changes are hitting the most popular APs, which will affect 46% of exams administered. Here is a table listing the APs (and the corresponding number of exams administered in 2023) migrating to a digital format next May:

The College Board plans to continue the digital migration in 2026 and anticipates the following six exams will be migrated to a digital format:

Once the second round of APs are migrated to digital, 3.1 million exams, 60% of the total administered, will be exclusively offered in a digital format.

The format

The digital AP exams will be administered on the Bluebook app, which is the platform used to administer the PSAT and SAT, now familiar to millions of students across the country. Students will also be able to access official practice AP content through Bluebook if their AP teacher grants them access to the materials.

So much remains the same

According to the College Board, the AP exams offered in a digital format:

  • are proctored and administered on the same schedule as the paper exams.
  • contain the same number of questions and timing as the paper exams.
  • allow students to move freely within a section until time is called for that section.
  • offer the same accommodations as those that students receive using paper exams.

Why digital?

Digital administration helps resolve several logistical issues. According to the College Board, “Digital exams are the future of AP testing. They remove the need to manage paper exam booklets on exam day and reduce the risk of exam security issues and lost exam responses.”

Saving the harder APs to digitize for later

In time, students will no longer take any high-stakes assessments using paper and pencil. The College Board, however, is saving some of the more challenging exams to digitize until it works out the processes for the exams that require illustrated solutions to problems. It’s relatively easy to administer AP Lang or APUSH using a computer, as the student output consists of answering multiple-choice questions and writing short- and long-form responses with the keyboard. It will be more challenging to adapt many of the STEM exams for digital entry because they require students to show work or create diagrams and illustrations. Some of these exams may have to be reformatted to allow students to complete them entirely using a keyboard.

Next steps

The initial migration of AP exams to a digital format should be relatively uneventful for students. The College Board gets heightened test security and protection of its intellectual property, and many students will actually prefer to compose responses on a keyboard versus using pencil and paper. The changes, as proposed to date, reflect only changes in format, not in content, so this should have a minimal impact on the vast majority of students.

Just as Applerouth has been preparing students for paper AP exams for years, we will be ready to help students prepare for the digital AP exams coming in 2025 and beyond. We already offer digital AP mock exams and will continue to update our offerings as the College Board continues its shift toward digital administration.

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