Each year, the AP Program develops and administers multiple versions of the AP Exam for each AP subject. Each version is developed with the same format, number, and type of questions.
Having multiple versions of the exam provides several key benefits for the AP community:
- Schools have the option to offer late testing to students impacted by exceptional circumstances
- The risk of students sharing exam questions across time zones is significantly reduced
Keeping Questions Secure
The most commonly administered set of free-response questions is posted on the College Board website two days after the exam. Some subjects will have more than one set posted. Only these questions may be discussed by students and teachers. Questions from other exam versions are not released publicly and are considered secure. Students and teachers shouldn’t assume that the free-response questions on any given version of the exam will be released online and must check the questions posted on the College Board website before discussing any free-response questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are more than one set of free-response questions for certain subjects posted on the College Board website two days after the exam?
For some subjects, more than one version of the exam is administered on the regularly scheduled testing date in order to reduce the risk of exam content being shared between students.
How can the College Board guarantee that one version of an exam is not easier than the other version?
Through the process of equating. Because no two versions of a test can be developed to statistically equivalent levels of difficulty, equating is an essential process in the scoring of standardized tests for which score comparability is an important concern.
For exams in which two or more versions are administered, an Equivalent Groups Equating Design is applied following a random distribution of the different exam versions to statistically equivalent groups of examinees. The statistical procedures used in the equating process adjust for differences in difficulty among exam versions that are built to be similar in difficulty and content. As a result, the scores from the different versions can be used interchangeably. This allows the AP Program to ensure that students’ scores are unaffected by which version of an exam the students took.
My students took two versions of the same exam on the regularly scheduled testing date. Why does this occur and how does the College Board decide which version of the AP Exam my students will receive?
To ensure that scores for different exam versions can be compared, valid scores from statistically equivalent groups of examinees must first be obtained. This requires that alternate exam versions are administered to small groups of students in the United States on the regularly scheduled testing date. This means that some or all students in one school may take a different version of the exam than the most commonly administered version(s). Overall, in a given year, only a small subset of schools in the U.S. receive and administer more than one version of the exam simultaneously on the regularly scheduled testing date.
Different versions of an AP Exam are distributed to a representative sample of schools of varying sizes across all major U.S. geographic regions. Selected schools are representative of the total population in terms of school characteristics and test performance. When a school receives two versions of an exam for a subject, approximately half of the students will take one of the versions given to most U.S. students, and approximately half will take the additional version. For most subjects, a school will not receive an additional version of the exam in consecutive years.
When there are multiple versions of an exam, what happens to my AP Instructional Planning Report (IPR)?
All students that test on the regularly scheduled testing date will be included in an Instructional Planning Report. If more than one version of the exam was administered to your students on the regularly scheduled exam date, your IPR for the selected subject(s) will be divided into two separate segments: one for the students who received a commonly administered version of the exam, and one for the students who took the additional version of the exam.
Are there any special administration requirements for the additional versions of AP Exams given in some U.S. schools?
No. While the exam booklets will have different codes on their covers that distinguish the versions from each other, the school does not need to (and should not) take any action to determine whether it has received two versions of an AP Exam.
Instead, the AP coordinator should simply distribute the exams as usual to students on exam day.