Online AP Exams start on Monday—here's what students and parents need to know

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The coronavirus pandemic has forced schools to shut their doors and forced students to take their classes — and exams — online. 

This year, some 3.4 million students are registered to take AP Exams, which are designed to test high school students' understanding of college-level material, online between May 11 and May 22.

With schools across the country closed, students will be able to take their tests online. The College Board, the organization that oversees the exams, recommends using the Google Chrome browser on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

In addition to being administered online, there will be several additional structural changes to this year's 32 exams.

For instance, instead of lasting 3 hours, each exam will only last 45 minutes and will focus on material covered before schools closed in early March. While some may see the shortened length as a positive, it also means students must be even more efficient with their time. 

Additionally, this year's AP Exams will allow students to use their books and notes. Students will be able to search the internet during the exam but The College Board stresses that it will not be helpful for the kinds of questions on the new online exams.

To prevent cheating, The College Board will be using plagiarism detection software, share results with teachers familiar with students' typical work and will use social media to detect students sharing answers. The organization has even said it may "post content designed to confuse and deter those who attempt to cheat."

For security purposes, students around the world will take each subject test at the same time, regardless of their time zone. Here is the schedule for this year's exams.

While students who were already registered to take the test in person do not need to take any additional steps to register to take the test online, The College Board is stressing that students take several steps before their exams next week. 

Here's what students, and parents, should know: 

Confirm your email address

Two days before each exam, students will be sent an E-Ticket which will include a personalized eight-character long AP ID as well as links to each exam.

This E-Ticket will be sent to the email address The College Board has on file, so students should be sure to confirm their email address as soon as possible.

The deadline for updating the email address where you want exam information to be sent is Thursday, May 7, 5:30 p.m. ET. 

Students should check their emails two days before each exam to locate their E-ticket.

Take a demo exam

Students should consider taking a demo exam before they take their actual exams online.

Taking a practice test is particularly important because it will help students learn how to how to submit answers for each type of question they might encounter which will be very different for online exams as compared to in-person, written exams.  

Students can submit responses by attaching photos of handwritten work, attaching a text file or copy and pasting their work. Taking a demo test and practicing submitting responses can help students find the right method for them.

To take a demo exam, students can enter the password "PRACTICE." For their actual exams, they will need to enter their AP ID as the password.

Make an exam day checklist

The College Board recommends that students complete the AP Exam Day checklist.

The extensive checklist reminds students to take steps like plugging in their devices and reminding their families to not interrupt them for the entirety of the exam. It also indicates that students should write down the following for each exam they take: 

  • Their 8-character AP ID.
  • The name of their exam.
  • The exam date.
  • The exam start-time for their time zone.
  • The check-in time (30 minutes before the exam starts).

Check-in early

Students should check in for their online exams 30 minutes before they begin. 

During this time, students will be asked to submit information such as their AP ID and name just as they might fill in this information on an in-person paper exam. 

But because the test is online, this extra 30 minutes is also an important time to make sure their devices and Wi-Fi are functioning properly and to prepare themselves for the exam ahead. 

Ultimately, The College Board will be offering makeup exams in early June for students who face technical problems, so students should also take this time to take a deep breath, collect themselves and visualize themselves doing their absolute best. 

This article has been updated to reflect more accurate information about changes to the AP Exam.

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