Greetings Students and Families,

So much has changed in college entrances exam requirements the past year during the pandemic.  Last year this time I wrote about how AP exams were being changed for May.  It was a mess—as so many of my own clients reported issues with uploading their responses and many students received scores lower than anticipated. The change from a traditional 3 hour exam to a 1 hour at-home format in May 2020 didn’t go that well for everyone.  That cycle has had a lasting impact– for high school students who took exams hoping to earn college credit and also – those scores impacted placement in sequential undergraduate coursework in mathematics, science, and foreign languages for the then seniors who arrived on campus (and for currently enrolled high school students- the May 20 exams will impact your college freshman placement as well).

So here we are and the College Board has made some changes for the AP 2021 exams—since so many school districts throughout the US have changed their start date to the school year and the delivery of instruction this past year continued to be a challenge given – the College Board has implemented changes in format and timing for May 2021.

As I wrote about in my earlier blog on AP courses and exams, these provide an opportunity for students to learn more challenging and collegiate level concepts  and demonstrate mastery of content.  

For the 2021 AP exam cycle—there are significant changes in how the exams will be administered. Students will have an opportunity to take the either in-person or virtually across a variety of dates..

Multiple AP Exam Dates and Formats

There will be three separate dates in May and June all having an in-school and at-home format. The school’s AP coordinator at every school will be able to authorize a full-length digital contingency exam.   The dates are:

  • Round 1: May 3-7, 10-12, 14, 17  
  • Round 2: May 18–21, 24–28  
  • Round 3: June 1–4, 7–11  

Whether digitally or on paper, all AP exams will be full-length and cover the entirety of the course content (a sharp contrast to 2020 – and that omitted content may result in no earned college credit or placement changes – subject to the discretion of each individual college. I caution students to expect placement exams in math, science and foreign languages regardless of scores earned on May 2020 exams).

It is up to each individual school to determine how and when to deliver the AP exams. A high school can elect to mix and match the different rounds in order to best align with the school’s instructional academic school year and also to support CDC/local social distancing protocols.  

The College Board has several excellent resources for review and there is also a series of live review sessions for students to review course content.

More about AP changes here


AP Live Review Sessiosn Here


As you think about your exam preparation, keep in mind your balanced college list and whether AP Scores will be a necessary part of your college application now that SAT Subject Tests have been eliminated..

Tips for Students Preparing for 2021 AP Exams

If you’re planning on taking an AP Exam, it’s best to begin your preparation with plenty of time to feel confident and prepared.  If you look at the typical review book, there’s 15 to 25 chapters of content.  Aim to complete your review of all course concepts with 2 weeks minimum to spare- that roughly means 2 to 3 chapters of work each week starting in the middle of March. It can be immensely helpful to form a small group of 2-3 students committed to regular AP exam review- study groups are the norm as an undergraduate—it’s a skill to learn a practice to embrace during high school.

  • Use the AP Daily Videos at the College Board, these are designed to cover content and skills in every AP course  

Remember- there’s no penalty for postponement—if you are ill on the day of the exam, please have a parent alert the school of your absence, and plan to take the exam on a designated make-up date.

Stay tuned—I offer links and more guidance on AP exams every April.

College Admissions Planning isn’t simply about your college acceptances– it’s about taking the time throughout high school to discover a passion for learning, and as I wrote about in an earlier blog- College Admissions Officers literally want to know –  “What’s Your Thing”?  What better way to respond to that essay prompt than through meaningful experiences throughout high school- including actual “competitions’!   Please schedule your College Planning Assessment with College Advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD   or CALL 833.MY.ESSAY

Don’t Just Learn– EXPLORE  & ROAR!!

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Have a wonderful day!

Bonnie     Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. Educational and College Admissions Consultant
Professor Emeritus  – Cornell University Alumni Rep

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Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. is the founder and principal educational consultant of College Career Consulting, LLC. She has over 30 years of experience as a university faculty member and shares her knowledge, professional resources and support with students who are ready to advance their lifelong educational and career journeys.


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