Coming This May to a Device Near You- 45-Minute AP Tests: But Will They Count at Your Student’s College?

When Kendrick, a graduating high school senior, enrolled in 9th grade, his coursework included AP Human Geography, a class that would potentially earn him three college credits, pending his score on the May AP test, and pending the decision of the college he would eventually select.

Over the course of 4 years, he has gone on to complete AP courses and tests for Calculus, Psychology, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, English and Spanish.  Together, attaining high scores on the AP tests, he has the ability to receive college credit for up to a year or more of college credit.  In Pennsylvania, with the annual cost of attendance at schools from Allegheny College to Lehigh to Penn State, the value of these credits could be equivalent to $30000-60000. With these credits, Kendrick could graduate a year early, enroll in a 4+1 Master’s degree program his senior year of college, double major, or do one or even two, semester-long internships, earning him over $25000.

Makes economic sense, doesn’t it?  

There are hundreds of students like Kendrick taking these AP courses.  Is it a slam dunk that he will receive credit, though, for these AP courses, and who decides?  Think of it as an exchange of currency, of sorts.  Each college makes its own determination the score that is required on each test, the corresponding number of credits the student will receive, the equivalent college course that the AP class will fulfill, and whether that class is a required part of the curriculum for the student’s degree requirements.  Now it gets a little sticky, doesn’t it?

On Friday (March 20, 2020), the College Board, which administers the AP exams, announced that, due to the Coronavirus, students will “sit” for a 45-minute online free-response exam at home. Yes, I can hear you laughing. Which is more plausible—that 45 minutes provides an adequate measurement of a student’s attainment of the material; or that the test possesses any degree of test security?  Insistent that colleges have in the past accepted such tests in emergency situations, the College Board goes on to say that students may use any device they wish.  Further, taking a photo of handwritten work will also be permitted

“Hey Google, If the acceleration of an object is not zero, then name two properties that could be constant?”  A Sixth grader could ace that test in about 28 minutes.

Aside from locking each student’s browser and supervising each student via camera phone, at-home test security is not valid.  Not for a minute.

While the College Board’s website currently says “colleges support this solution,”  you need to know that each college will determine its own “Currency Exchange,” and if you have graduating high school seniors, checking with the registrar of the college your student will attend will be helpful but even they may not have time to meet in committee until just prior to the start of the fall semester.

If you find yourself in difficult situations like this, or any other aspect of the college planning and admissions process, I am meeting day and night with parents and students in a safe, reliable, platform that lasts longer than 45 minutes and provides you with the sound strategy and answers you need in these critical times. 

Cathy Lueers provides free consultations and can be reached at: [email protected], 412.720.9802, or at