2.1 Taking the Exam
2.1.1 Can students both type and handwrite their responses on the same exam?
There are multiple options for submitting a response to the exam questions. For each exam question, students can choose one of the submission options. They may choose to type their responses to one question and handwrite their responses to the other question on an exam. However, within a single question, students cannot both type and handwrite—unless they save the final response as a PDF and use the Attach Text File option OR as an image file (.jpg, .jpeg, or .png) and use the Attach Photos option.
The exam is designed to be completed using a single device. If students have more than one device —computer, tablet, or smartphone— they should try the demo on each device to see which one they prefer.
2.1.2 Can a student handwrite their response to the question, take a picture, paste it in google docs or word, and upload it this way?
Students may choose to type their responses to one question and handwrite their responses to the other question on an exam. However, within a single question, students cannot both type and handwrite. A student can’t insert a photo of a handwritten document within a text file and then attempt to upload that text file.
2.1.3 Can a student open an exam on multiple devices at the same time?
Students should not open an exam using their e-ticket on multiple devices at the same time. This can lead to errors that prevent submission of exam responses.
2.1.4 Can headphones be used for noise cancellation purposes?
Yes, headphones can be used for noise cancellation purposes.
2.1.5 Can students use two devices during the exam?
Students can use one device to access their exam using the e-ticket and a second device, such as a smartphone or tablet, to photograph their handwritten work. They would need to transfer the photo(s) to the first device to attach and submit their work.
Important: Students should not open an exam using their e-ticket on both devices at the same time. This can lead to errors that prevent submission of exam responses.
In the 2020 AP Testing Guide, we recommend using one device. Using two devices is more complicated and time-consuming, but if your students are confident in their ability to use multiple devices, it's not prohibited to do so.
Here's how a second device can be used:
- The student clicks the e-ticket on their laptop/desktop, which will open up the exam on that machine, where the student will view the exam question(s) and the timer.
- The student can then handwrite their response and photograph it with a smartphone or tablet.
- When no fewer than 5 minutes remain, the student should email or transfer the photo(s) to their laptop/desktop and save the photos to a folder they can find easily.
Note: if the student has a cloud-based file storage system they can access on both devices (e.g., Google Drive or iCloud), the student can access the photos from their laptop/desktop, but then must save the photo to their laptop/desktop as a .jpg, .jpeg, or .png file. The HEIC photo file format common to Apple® devices can’t be submitted as is; see the relevant FAQ about HEIC files below.
- The student then clicks “Attach Response,” and then selects “Attach Photos.”
- After the student ensures that all photos for that question have been attached, the student must click “Submit” before the time expires.
In each case, as always, students should wait for the upload to complete and the “Your AP Exam is Complete” confirmation message to appear before they close the exam browser window.
2.1.6 Can a student use Apple Pencil to write their response on a tablet?
Yes, the Apple Pencil® can be used with apps like Word or Notes to compose a response. Note: Apple Pencil or any other digital stylus may not be used for AP Music Theory Exams.
Before exam day, the student should decide which file type they will submit—an image file or a text file—and practice creating a response in a particular app and saving the file in one of the accepted file formats:
- If saving as an image: the student should save each page as a .jpg, .jpeg, or .png file and use the Attach Photos option. They should remember to attach all images before clicking “Submit.”
- If saving as a text file: the student should save the all pages of the response as a .doc, .docx, .pdf, .txt, or .odt file and use the Attach Text File option.
A student using an Apple Pencil may submit a file containing a mixture of handwriting and text, whether keyboarded or created by handwriting recognition. However, the student MUST save the file as an image file (.jpg, .jpeg, or .png) and use the Attach Photos option OR as a PDF and use the Attach Text File option.
2.1.7 Can a student use an equation editor to develop their response?
- Yes, if the student saves their response as a PDF and then attaches it using the “Attach Text File” option. The student should check the PDF carefully before submitting it.
- No, if the student plans to copy and paste their response into the field in the online exam. The copy/paste option does not recognize images, and since equation editors create images, students cannot copy/paste responses that contain mathematical, scientific, or other symbols and notations. Instead, the student should save and attach as a PDF any responses that utilize an equation editor, or if a student wants to copy/paste, the student MUST use the typing guides available at cb.org/apexamdaydocs instead of using an equation editor.
2.1.8 If a student is late to the test, will they still be able to access the test or will they be locked out?
They will still be able to access the test, but they may have lost testing time.
2.1.9 Do students need to have a homeschool code or online provider code on exam day, if applicable?
2.1.10 Do students need to complete all parts of the exam question to get a good score?
No. To give students as many different chances as possible to demonstrate what they know, a question may have more parts than can be answered in the allowed time. Students don't need to complete the entire question to get a score of 5, but they do need to submit whatever work they've done. See a short video by Trevor Packer about this.
2.1.11 If a student is finished with their response, do they have to wait until the five-minute warning to submit it?
No. Students can submit their response whenever they are ready to do so.
2.1.12 Do students need to name their files in a prescribed manner?
No. We only recommend that they are named clearly, so the student knows they are attaching the correct response for each exam they take. For example, APBiologyQuestion1.docx and APBiologyQuestion2.docx.
2.1.13 Can students print or take screenshots of the exam questions to share with their teachers?
Students should not print or take screenshots of the questions to give to their teachers. We will provide confidential and secure copies of the questions to teachers only, not to the public, on May 26.
2.2.1 Will responses be saved in case of failure or disconnect?
Responses to exam questions are crafted in the student’s application of choice, e.g., Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Notepad, etc. Students should make sure their work is saved periodically using the application in which they craft their response to reduce the chances of losing work should there be a disruption on with their device or internet connection.
If a student has a technical issue, they should use their e-ticket to rejoin their exam. If they cannot submit a response, students will have an opportunity to email their responses immediately after the exam. If they’re unable to email their responses, they can request late-June exception testing. The June 22−30 exception testing exams are the final opportunity to take AP Exams in 2020.
2.2.2 If a student has technical issues during an exam, is there a time window within which they need to take action?
If a student has a technical issue, they can rejoin their exam at any point by using their e-ticket. If the issue causes them to miss submitting a response, they will have an opportunity to email their responses immediately after the exam.
2.2.3 Where can students find troubleshooting tips?
Students can find guidance for preventing or resolving common technical issues at Troubleshooting Tips for AP 2020 Exams.
2.3 Printing and Annotation
2.3.1 Can students print the questions to read or annotate them?
2.4.1 How are accommodations being communicated with students?
Students approved by the College Board Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office for accommodations, parents, and educators received an email on April 21, when details about accommodations for online AP Exams were released. Additional details will be posted the week of April 27 about accommodations for the AP Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish Language and Culture exams.
2.4.2 Will students who need it receive extended time?
For all exams except the spoken world language and culture exams, students approved for extended time will receive the extended time within the online exam platform.
For the AP Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish Language and Culture exams, students approved for extended time for listening and/or speaking will receive extended time. Because these exams only require spoken responses, students who are approved only for reading, writing, and/or math extended time won’t need extended time on these exams.
2.4.3 Can a student turn in their exam after the 45 minutes but prior to the extended time period? Do they have to wait until the time is complete to submit?
Students can turn in their response at any point during a question (they should start the process for submitting their response at least 5 minutes before a question ends). Note: if their exam has two questions, they can’t move on to the second question until the extended time for the first question has finished.
For the AP Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish Language and Culture exams students: The AP World Languages Exam App that administers these exams controls the audio content that students listen to, and automatically records and uploads the student’s responses. For these exams, students can’t complete their exam sooner than the designated time.
2.4.4 How will exams work for students with breaks? Will they be able to stop the clock?
Students will not be able to stop the clock, but they shouldn’t need to. Students with the Breaks as Needed accommodation will receive extended time, so they’ll be able to take breaks while still having enough time to complete the exam. Students with the Extra Breaks or Extended Breaks accommodation will not need them on this year’s AP Exams—since the standard timing is 45 minutes for this year’s exams (and less for world language and culture exams), there are no breaks during the exams.
For AP Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish Language and Culture exams: Because of the construct and duration of these exams (15–25 minutes for the timed exam content), Breaks as Needed aren’t applicable for the exams this year.
2.4.5 What is the suggested screen reader software for students to use for their "reader" accommodation?
Students approved for a reader will be able to take the online exam using screen reader software. The online AP Exam is optimized for use in the latest versions of Chrome (preferred), Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge. The online exam won't be compatible with Internet Explorer 11. Before the exam, students should ensure they have access to one of the optimized browsers for the exam and determine which browser their screen reader software works with. Students should practice using their screen reader software in one of these browsers before the exam.
If a student doesn’t have access to this software, they can have someone in their household read the exam directions and content to them. More details can be found here.
Students approved for a reader will test with extended time (as per existing policies) for all exams except the spoken World Language and Culture exams. For the AP Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish Language and Culture exams: Since this year’s exams contain speaking tasks only, extended time for use of a reader isn’t applicable.
2.4.6 What accommodations are available for the blind?
Depending on their specific accommodations, students will be able to take the online exam using a screen reader, refreshable braille display, their own braille writing software, or other assistive technology. If a student doesn’t have access to these resources, they can have someone in their household assist them. More details can be found here.
2.4.7 How will students whose accommodations require a unique technology like Dragon or JAWS that their school would have provided be supported?
If a student approved for an accommodation doesn’t have access to specific technology at home, there are alternatives, including having someone in their household assist them as a reader and/or writer. Families with specific questions about allowable alternatives should contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 844-255-7728 or 212-713-8333.
2.4.8 Has the SSD office notified AP coordinators and students of their approval for the accommodations requested for the 2020 AP Exam administration?
Yes. First-time requests for accommodations and supporting documentation were due January 17. By now, SSD coordinators and students have received approvals. AP coordinators can see students’ accommodations status in AP Registration and Ordering. Students with pending requests should contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 844-255-7728 or 212-713-8333 as soon as possible.
2.4.9 I haven’t yet received approval for my accommodation request. Can I test with the accommodation?
Students can only use accommodations if they’ve been approved by the College Board Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office. If a student or parent would like to look up a student’s accommodations approval letter, they can go to https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/ssd and sign in using the student’s College Board account username and password.
2.4.10 Can I still request accommodations? Will the AP SSD applications deadline be extended?
The AP accommodations request deadline was January 17. It has not been extended, as most schools were still in session at that time. You can still request accommodations, but we cannot guarantee that a decision will be made and implemented in time for this year’s AP Exams. If you are approved for accommodations after this year’s AP Exams, you will be able to use the approved accommodations on other College Board exams that you take in the future (including the SAT, PSAT-related assessments, and AP).
2.4.11 How will the online exam know I’m approved for accommodations?
Students approved by the College Board SSD office for 50% or 100% extended time will receive applicable exams with the extended time provided through the exam. Students with other types of approved accommodations (not time-based) will be able to use their accommodations on exam day. Some accommodations might be provided differently this year due to the different nature of this year’s exams (taken online at home, and shorter than usual). Review details about accommodations.
2.4.12 Will a student need to provide any information in the online exam system to enable/use their accommodations? Will they need their SSD number?
No, they won’t need to do anything in the online exam to enable or use their accommodations. All students will provide some basic identifying information at the start of the exam, including their AP ID, but students won’t need their SSD number and won’t need to enter any information about their approved accommodation(s).
2.4.13 An AP coordinator ordered special format materials (braille, ATC, large print) for a student. Does the coordinator need to cancel those materials?
No, AP coordinators don’t need to cancel any special format materials that were previously ordered in AP Registration and Ordering. No exam materials will ship to schools this year.
2.4.14 How can I request supports/accommodations for a temporary medical condition while testing at home?
A student who has a temporary medical or physical condition (e.g., a broken hand) may request temporary assistance if it's needed to complete the exam. This process should be used only for students who don't have a disability but who need support during the test due to a temporary physical/medical condition. Because this year's exams are shorter, students might not need temporary supports. Requests must be submitted to SSD via the request form. We are aware that some of the information may not be available due to school closures and the current situation. Please fill out the form as completely as possible. The form may be returned via fax or e-fax using the number listed on the form. If you don't have access to fax or e-fax, contact the SSD office.
2.4.15 Is a Nonstandard Administration Report required?
No. AP coordinators do not need to submit a Nonstandard Administration Report (NAR) form this year.
2.5 Submitting Responses
2.5.1 I have very slow internet/cellular service and pictures take a long time to upload to other sites. Will I have difficulty submitting pictures of my handwritten work?
Yes, most likely you’ll experience delays when you try to submit a photo of handwritten work. We recommend typing and submitting your response instead.
If you want to take photos of your handwritten work, however, we recommend taking photos of each page first, then browsing your camera roll for these rather than taking a photo directly while attaching your response. When selecting a photo while browsing, you should then choose to share the photo at a medium or small size so that the files aren't too large.
2.5.2 Can students submit a PDF of their handwritten work?
Yes, so long as they combine all photos of their handwritten response into a single PDF for that question.
Important: once photos of their handwritten work are saved as a PDF, they are no longer considered photos by the system, but documents: PDFs are document files, not image files. So when the timer reaches 5 minutes remaining, the student must click the “Attach Response” button within the exam and then select “Attach Text File” to locate their saved PDF, rather than the “Attach Photos” button.
2.5.3 Can student submit an HEIC file of a photo of their handwritten work?
Recent iPhones and iPads save photos as HEIC files. HEIC photo files can’t be submitted “as is” in the online exam. They must be converted to an accepted file format. Here are two ways students can do that:
- Update their Apple device settings before the exam so that their photos will be saved as .jpeg files: Settings > Camera > Formats > Select “Most Compatible”
- Resave the HEIC file as an accepted file format: the easiest way to convert an HEIC file is for students to email it to themselves using the iPhone or iPad Mail app. The attached image will automatically be converted to a JPEG.
2.5.4 Can students submit a link to a Google Doc or some other cloud document?
No. Students may create their response in Google Docs, but must either copy/paste and submit their response, or download a copy of their document in an accepted file format (.docx, .pdf, .txt, or .odt) and attach the file and submit it.
2.5.5 Does a student need to choose their submission option for a question before they’ve seen the question?
No. Students can choose their submission option after they see the question. If students aren’t sure whether they’ll be typing or handwriting their response, they should prepare both electronic and paper documents ahead of exam day. See pages 24 and 25 in the 2020 AP Testing Guide.
2.5.6 What should a student do if they don’t remember seeing either the “Congratulations, Your Exam is Complete” or the “We Did Not Receive Your Responses(s)” message on the screen when they successfully or unsuccessfully submit a response? Should they request a makeup exam?
If a student isn’t sure whether they’ve submitted a response, they can request a June 22−30 exception testing exam within 48 hours of their makeup exam. However, once they submit an exception request, any response(s) they submitted for the makeup exam will be invalidated.
2.6 Makeup Testing
2.6.1 What are testing options for students who observe Ramadan from April 23 to May 23?
Students observing Ramadan should carefully review the exam schedule at cb.org/apschedule2020. The shorter exams and the makeup testing dates should help these students plan a schedule of AP Exams that best fits their needs.
2.6.2 If students can’t test in May or June, is there a backup option for testing the student when school reopens?
2.6.3 How and when will AP coordinators be able to see which students did and did not test?
On June 8, coordinators will be able to see which students did and did not test. Starting Wednesday, May 27, there will also be a manual way for coordinators to see which students tested in the main exam administration window from May 11–22. Students who missed the main exam administration window will have their test date updated in AP Registration and Ordering to the makeup date in the first week of June.
2.6.4 Are there any troubleshooting tips for students whose Makeup Request Key is not being accepted by the AP Makeup Testing Request Form?
Most likely the student did not copy the Makeup Request Key correctly. Remind the student to copy all characters in the string, including “https://ap2020.collegeboard.org/?raott=” and check that they didn’t add any extra spaces or breaks.