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We created these free resources to support AP teachers throughout the year, help students succeed on AP Exams, and reduce the administrative burden on schools.

Some of these resources, such as the AP question bank, are ones educators have been requesting for years. Others address specific program needs, such as how to help newer AP teachers effectively plan and teach a college-level course to students with diverse backgrounds and levels of preparation. And the process changes and improved tools are designed to simplify the exam administration and save schools time.

With the introduction of the new student and teacher resources, we are moving the AP Exam registration and ordering timeline from the spring to the fall. We hope the following information about the reasons for this change proves helpful to the AP community.

Why move registration and ordering to the fall?

Moving the exam-taking decision toward the start of the AP course will benefit students and boost the learning culture in AP classrooms. When students commit to the exam from day one, they invest themselves in their classes, teaming with their teacher and classmates to do the daily work needed to earn a score on the AP Exam that qualifies for college credit and/or placement.

More than half of all schools offering AP currently require students to make exam-taking decisions in the fall. At these schools, students are either required to take the exam or are asked to commit to the exam when they enroll in the course or at the start of the course. These policies are not unique to well-resourced schools and privileged students; in fact, schools that ask students to commit to the exam at the beginning of the year are more likely to serve students from underrepresented backgrounds.

At these schools:

  • AP-ready students are more likely to earn a score of 3 or higher.
  • Students take AP courses at the same rates as students at schools that require exam-taking decisions later in the year; however, they are more likely to take the exam.
  • Educators report seeing increased engagement from students who are “in it to win it” from the start of the course.

Our analysis shows that fall registration expands access to exam taking. For example, at a school with 30 students with readiness for AP Biology who take the course, asking students to commit to taking the exam at the start of the course results in three additional exams taken, with one additional score of 3 or higher.

To validate the results that schools have reported, we ran a large-scale pilot in the 2017-18 school year with over 40,000 students to see what would happen if students registered for AP Exams in the fall rather than the spring. The schools in the pilot were more likely than the typical AP school to require exam commitments in the spring, and these schools had historically higher than average rates of AP students who didn’t take the exam. Here’s what we saw:

AP Exam Takers

  • Nearly 1.5 times the growth in the number of students taking exams, compared to the previous year

Underrepresented Minority AP Exam Takers

  • Over 1.5 times the growth in the number of African American, Latino, and Native American students taking exams, compared to the previous year

Low-Income AP Exam Takers

  • Nearly double the growth in the number of low-income students taking exams, compared to the previous year

AP Exams Taken by Low-Income Students: Scores of 3+

  • Nearly double the growth in the number of scores of 3+ earned by low-income students, compared to the previous year

Underrepresented students in pilot schools saw larger increases in 3+ scores earned:

Increase in 3+ Scores Earned in Pilot Schools (2017-18)

Here are some observations from educators about the value of fall exam registration:

Fall registration for exams, and the fact that all students took the exams this year, has made students more engaged. My students seemed to take preparation more seriously and reported feeling more confident when they took their exam.

—AP Environmental Science teacher, 2017-18 pilot

They are way more motivated. Often in the past a student would find a topic difficult and give up, saying that they would just not take the test. This year they don't have that option as a crutch. Also, instead of having a class of mixed motivated and not-motivated students, I have a more uniform class of high-engaged students. Much easier to teach!

—AP Macroeconomics and Microeconomics teacher, 2017-18 pilot

[Fall exam registration] gets that buy-in in the classroom right away. Because even in February, if you have 5 kids who say, ‘I’m not gonna take it’ and 25 that are, it so changes the dynamic, and it’s really difficult. So I think it very quickly creates that bond in the classroom that ‘We are gonna do this and we’re gonna pass this together.'

—AP coordinator

Why introduce late-order and cancellation fees?

In 2019-20, we want all AP students to make the kind of commitment to their courses and exams that can lead to the benefits described above.

Schools have found, and we’ve verified in our pilot, that having a meaningful stake in the year-end goal of the AP Exam encourages students to persist through a challenging class, do their best work, and take advantage of the opportunities they have earned. That’s why we’ve introduced two fees, a $40 additional fee for each exam ordered after the final deadline in the fall, and a $40 final fee for any exam that is ordered but not taken.

Based on the findings from our pilot, we expect that very few students will incur these fees in 2019-20. The vast majority of pilot schools placed exam orders on time, and very few students ended up canceling exams.