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When deciding when and how to test students, a school can make different decisions for different courses, different sections, and different students, as needs and circumstances warrant. Schools are not required to pick just one testing option (paper and pencil or digital), and do not need to complete all testing within a single exam administration window. For example:

  • To have more space for social distancing while testing, a school could spread its AP testing across all 3 administration windows: utilizing the Administration 1 paper and pencil exams for some subjects, the Administration 2 digital exams in school for other subjects, and the Administration 3 digital exams in school for other subjects.
  • A school could administer the Administration 2 digital exams in school for most students, while also authorizing at-home testing for any students who have coronavirus-related reasons not to test in person.

Decisions about testing dates and modes should be made by schools and districts and communicated to their students and families; at-home testing must be authorized by the AP coordinator for each eligible student. Throughout the spring and during the AP testing weeks, AP coordinators will be able to use AP Registration and Ordering to reassign students to later testing dates if any changes of plan occur.

Even if a school is only planning to administer paper and pencil exams, it should ensure that its students are prepared to take the digital version of the exam (if applicable), in the event they need to take a makeup digital exam.

See the AP Exam Administration Planning Guide (633 KB/.pdf) for factors to consider as you plan your 2021 AP Exam administration.

See Updating Your Exam Order for information about how and when to assign students to later testing dates, if needed.

Review the Updated Exam Schedule

In 2021, there are three primary exam administration windows:

Exam Administration Type Exam Dates Exam Start Times

Administration 1

Paper (32 subjects) and Chinese and Japanese

Location: Only in schools or school-proctored sites

May 3–7, May 10–12, May 14, May 17

Note: No exams are scheduled for Thursday, May 13, to avoid conflicts for students observing Eid al Fitr. Exams previously scheduled for May 13 will instead be administered on May 17.

8 a.m. local time
12 p.m. local time
2 p.m. local time (Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism)

Exams must start no later than one hour after the official start time.*

Administration 2

Digital (17 subjects)

Location:
Schools, school-proctored sites, or
students’ homes

May 18–20, May 26–28

12 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time
4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time

Exams begin simultaneously at the official start time.

Paper (15 subjects) and Chinese and Japanese

Location: Only in schools or school-proctored sites

May 21, 24–25

8 a.m. local time
12 p.m. local time

Exams must start no later than one hour after the official start time.*

Administration 3

Digital (25 subjects)

Location:
Schools, school-proctored sites, or
students’ homes

June 1–3, June 7–11

12 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time
4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time

Exams begin simultaneously at the official start time.

Paper (7 subjects) and Chinese and Japanese

Location: Only in schools or school-proctored sites

June 4

8 a.m. local time
12 p.m. local time

Exams must start no later than one hour after the official start time.*

*Schools in Alaska must begin the morning exam administration between 7 and 8 a.m. local time, and the afternoon exam administration between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. local time. The AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Exam in Alaska must begin between 1 and 2 p.m. local time.

See Exam Dates for the updated 2021 exam schedule.

Understand Digital Testing Requirements

Visit Digital Exams for high-level requirements for digital testing. Whether digital exams are given at school or at home, schools are responsible for ensuring that all requirements for digital testing are met and that students complete all setup and readiness steps before exam day and understand and follow exam security policies and procedures.

View the AP Digital Testing Guide for detailed information about 2021 digital AP Exams, including:

  • Four steps students need to take before they can test
  • The digital exam experience
  • Technical requirements
  • Accommodations for digital exams
  • Policies and procedures for administering digital exams in school

Prioritize Testing at School

Schools that can safely administer paper and pencil or digital exams in school buildings or at other school-proctored locations should do so. Students are more likely to show up and complete the exam when they can test at school, where there are far fewer disruptions than when attempting to take a high-stakes test at home. Students cannot independently opt to stay home for digital AP testing; because of the interruptions and challenges students face when testing at home, at-home digital AP testing must be authorized by the AP coordinator. All paper testing, as well as AP Chinese and AP Japanese, can only be administered in schools, never at home.

Note: to ensure equitable and secure testing of full course content and skills, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish Language and Culture; Latin; Music Theory; and Spanish Literature and Culture exams can only be administered in a proctored in-school environment. While these exams will be available to students in Administrations 1, 2, and 3, they can only be administered in schools.

Review Options to Help Safeguard Students Testing at School

Continue to follow local health and safety guidelines to help keep your students safe. Here are some updates and reminders to support the safe administration of AP Exams:

  • Off-site testing: If schools need more space to test students, they may test some or all students at off-site locations, such as libraries, churches, colleges/universities, and convention centers. This year, our off-site testing policy allows schools to divide an exam subject across multiple locations, if necessary. All proctoring and other off-site testing requirements apply.
  • Proctors: Schools may need more exam rooms and/or locations due to social distancing. Schools must maintain the required proctor-to-student ratio, and all proctors must meet AP proctor eligibility requirements.
  • Start times: Schools can begin paper and pencil exams and Chinese and Japanese exams up to 1 hour after the official start time (local time), giving them flexibility to manage arrival times of students to provide greatest social distancing. In contrast, digital exams are administered at the same time worldwide because some students will be required to test from home due to coronavirus, so there is no flexibility in the start time for digital exams. All students must be present and begin the check-in process 30 minutes before the official start time, when the first exam question will appear and the timer will begin. All students taking digital exams must also be seated by the conclusion of the built-in break—the exam will resume automatically at the same time for all students taking a particular exam.
  • Seating: To adhere to state or district requirements, schools may seat students further apart than they usually do for AP Exams. Minimum seating distance requirements for AP Exams to maintain exam security—5 feet for most exams, 4 feet for U.S. History and Calculus exams—still apply, along with all other seating policies, including having all students face the same direction.
  • Clear partitions: Typically, the use of partitions is prohibited. However, this year, clear partitions may be used as a safety measure if desired. The partitions must not prevent the proctor from seeing students.