AP Writers/Scribes

A writer may assist a student during their exam if the College Board SSD office has approved the accommodation, or the student has been approved for an accommodation for which use of a writer is listed as an alternative.

Visit Readers for details on that accommodation.

Writer Eligibility

Writers/scribes must be:

  • Fluent or proficient in Spanish (if assisting with the administration of the AP Spanish Literature and Culture Exam).
  • Fluent in describing and writing music notation (if assisting with the administration of the AP Music Theory Exam).

Writers/scribes must not:

  • Be employed part- or full-time at a test preparation company.
  • Participate in any coaching activity that addresses the content of secure College Board tests.

 Note: For the 2020 AP Exam administration only, parents who are AP teachers may serve as a writer/scribe, if needed.

General Guidelines

  • Students approved to test with a writer will be able to take the exam with extended time.
  • The student and the writer should discuss how best to work together before the exam administration.
  • The writer/scribe should be familiar with this year's exam security policies.
  • Any discussion or communication concerning interpretation of exam content is not permitted.

Writer Directions

Students with disabilities must be given the same opportunity as other students to plan, draft, and revise their free responses. This means that the writer may write down an outline or other plan as directed by the student. The writer must write down the words of the student exactly as dictated. If time permits when the free response is finished, the student may read the free response and dictate revisions. If the student's disability prevents them from reading the free response, the writer may read it aloud and allow the student to dictate revisions. The writer's responsibility is to be both accurate and fair, neither diminishing the fluency of the student nor helping to improve or alter what the student asks to be recorded.

The writer's role includes the following considerations:

  • At all times, the writer must write only what the student dictates.
  • The writer may not prompt the student in a way that would result in a better response. For example, prompts such as "let's list reasons to support your position" or "do you want to give more examples?" give the student an unfair advantage and are inappropriate. However, the writer may respond to questions such as "where are we on my outline?" by pointing to and reading the outline.
  • The writer should ask for the spelling of commonly misspelled words and homonyms such as "to," "two," and "too," or "there," "their," and "they're." If the student uses a word that is unfamiliar to the writer or a word that the writer does not know how to spell, the writer should ask the student to spell it.

Because good free-response writing demands fluency, the writer's job is to record the student's production accurately without making the task more complicated. Clearly, a capable writer could improve the mechanics (spelling, capitalization, and punctuation) of a weak free response. On the other hand, even a capable writer who had to spell out every word would begin to sound stilted. Sometimes the writer needs to speak so as to confirm that what has been written is in fact what the student intended. For example, if the student says what sounds like "flower" the writer may need to ask, "Do you mean ‘f-l-o-w-e-r' or ‘f-l-o-u-r'?" The writer needs to strike a reasonable balance and not spell every word and ask for confirmation, but not make too many assumptions either.

The student must:

  • indicate the beginning and end of each sentence and each paragraph
  • indicate all punctuation
  • spell words that are unclear (such as commonly misspelled words, words unfamiliar to the scribe, and all words associated with a topic such as proper names of places or people) without reference to a dictionary. Students do not need to spell each and every word.

After indicating that they know to start a sentence with a capital letter and end with a period, or to capitalize the letter "I" when referring to themselves, students do not have to continue to specify these conventions. The writer should apply these automatically. The free response must be written in longhand or typed. The student should have an opportunity to review and revise if there is enough time. Cross-outs and insertions are allowed and are not penalized, as for all students. The readers who score the free responses will not be informed that any testing accommodations were allowed.

The writer may have to make decisions about how to proceed in situations that are not described above. The guiding principle in making these decisions should be that the process should neither help nor penalize the student.