College Board Announces 2021 AP Test Structure

Malayna Chang and Grace Liu

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high-school students will be given the option of taking the Advanced Placement (AP) exams either in-person or online in May 2021. These tests will be full-length, three-hour exams designed to test the knowledge and skills students have learned and mastered throughout the academic school year.

Compared with last year’s AP exams, which only tested a partial range of skills, AP College Board will be offering full-length exams so that AP students have the opportunity to demonstrate their range of skills,” AP European History and AP Latin IV teacher Jennifer Mullowney said. 

The announcement draws a contrast to the decisions made by the College Board during the spring of 2020, when all exams were taken virtually and were modified to be only 45 minutes instead of the usual three hours. This year, the usual exams will take place rather than the modified exams, and will include multiple choice, short-answer, essay, and document-based questions, depending on the subject. “Having the scores last year depend on only one skill task was very stressful for some students,” Mullowney said. 

However, changes to the curriculum during distance learning may alter the material presented on the tests. This year, if things go as planned, I do have concerns that students have hoped that they would have access to materials, as they have had during the first semester. This hope may have hindered the learning and retention of important content,” AP European History teacher Kelly Ginocchio said. 

“Many students may be taking their first ever AP class this year or may be taking multiple at the same time. Many students have been used to online classes and online testing, and the teachers have adjusted their lessons and tests accordingly, such as allowing open-note testing,” junior Olivia Uzuncan said. 

“The exam is designed to show what students have learned, how they think, read, and write. The students have never prepared for an AP exam via Zoom, but these students have been the most amazing, adaptive, intelligent, inspirational, invigorating individuals,” AP Language and Composition teacher Linda Hora said.