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2020 AP Exam Details Breakdown

Recently, College Board posted an update regarding the complete details of AP Exam testing. You can see the full updates here. We recommend all students read it in full, but here is ESM’s summary of the key points.

Important Links

  1. College Board's Complete AP Testing Guide
  2. AP Checklist
  3. General information on the 2020 tests
  4. AP Exam Dates
  5. College Board's Tips for Open Book Tests
  6. AP Exam Security Details
  7. AP Exam Demo
  8. Makeup Request Form
  9. Testing with Accommodations Details

Student Checklist Before Test Day

  1. Have any and all references/guides/notes printed out and ready to go.
  2. Try out the exam software using the “AP Exam Demo”
  3. Setup your device. College Board actively recommends desktop/laptop over smartphones (except for the World Language and Music Theory tests).
  4. Ensure you have your “e-ticket” for each of your exams. These will be sent out two days before the test and will include “AP IDs” which you will need to access your tests.
  5. Fill out the AP Checklist for every single test.

Optional “Resources” to Prepare

  1. Any and all printed or digital resources (Class notes, study guides, textbooks, previous assignments, calculators for some tests) are allowed. The only exception is “shared” documents. Students can use these, but they must create their own unshared copy.
  2. College Board is very clear that spending time finding information, either from internet searches or from their resources, is time not spent answering questions and will also probably not improve students’ scores.
  3. We recommend keeping time spent using these resources to an absolute minimum.
  4. College Board has more recommendations/tips here.

Test Day

Before the Test

  1. Remove distractions (phone, family members.) Especially ask other family members to not use the internet.
  2. Make sure all resources are printed out and easily accessible.
  3. Check in 30 minutes before start time.
  4. Pass through a few security filters to verify identity.
  5. A timer will show how much time remains until the end of the exam.
  6. Do NOT refresh the browser (Ever).

During the Test

  1. CB recommends two browser windows, one for the exam equations and one for responses. (Dual monitors would be an ideal set up.)
  2. Spell and grammar checks are allowed, except for the Grammarly plug-in (all browser plugins/extensions must be disabled), but will not provide advantages.
  3. Test questions can be printed and annotated. (Don’t do this, waste of time).
  4. Students will not be able to move on to the second question until the time for the first question has fully expired.
  5. If students accidentally exit the exam for whatever reason, they will be able to rejoin by clicking their e-ticket. If they feel this affected their scores, they can file a make up request.
  6. Students should see a message stating “Your AP Exam is Complete” at the end of the test. If they do not receive this confirmation, they’ll need to request a make up.

Submitting Responses

  1. AP IDs and student’s initials must be at the top of every response.
  2. Once a question is submitted, students cannot go back to it.
  3. CB specifically designed some questions to not be able to be completed during the allotted time, so students can still get 5s even if they haven’t answered all the questions. Always submit work on time! Not submitting a response before time is not an acceptable reason for makeup testing.
  4. As long as the student clicks “Submit” before the timer runs out, the answer is considered to have been submitted.
  5. Three options to submit responses:
  6. Copy and paste typed responses
  7. Attachments of typed responses Photos of typed responses not accepted
  8. Attachments of photos of written work
  9. Please see the full guide for more details about responses.
  10. Do NOT refresh/close the browser or computer until the answer is fully transferred.

June Makeup Testing

  1. Avoid June makeups if possible: there are time conflicts with multiple exams and there are no more chances after those.
  2. If students can’t test in May, they should not use their e-tickets for May and they’ll automatically receive new e-tickets for the make up in June.
  3. If students have issues during the May test, they have to fill out an online AP Makeup Testing Form outlining what their issues were.
  4. CB will definitely approve makeup dates for these issues: sickness, significant interruptions from family members, battery failures, power outages, technical disruptions.
  5. Running out of time is not a valid reason! Always hit submit!

Exam Security

  1. College Board is keeping its security techniques confidential for the most part.
  2. CB may post content designed to confuse and deter those who cheat.
  3. Students’ exams will be scanned by plagiarism detection software and shared directly with teachers.
  4. Students found in violation will have their AP Exam scores cancelled and names reported to college admissions officers.
  5. More details here.


  1. Exams will be scored as normal (1-5, no curves), and most colleges will still give credit as they have in the past.
  2. Exams will have the same difficulty as previous years.
  3. Scores will be released one week later than usual, around July 15.
  4. Teachers will be able to contest scores if they believe it wasn’t a fair assessment.