Don’t Walk Blindly into AP Exams


Media by Mason Kellerman

New AP exam registration policies can prevent students from walking blindly into second quarter AP exam signups.

With the new quarter-based schedule this semester, students are faced with the registration process for Advanced Placement (AP) exams without much experience with their second quarter courses. 

At the beginning of the year, Rockwood imposed a quarter-based schedule during virtual learning for the first semester. During the first quarter, students participated in only their odd hour classes, while, in the second quarter, students participate in only their even hour classes.

For AP students, this schedule change causes problems in accordance with AP exam registration. Registration and payment for AP exams opened Thursday, Oct. 1, and will continue to be accessible through Sunday, Nov. 8. With the start of second quarter courses last Monday, Oct. 26, there is only a two-week period for students to get a sense of their second quarter courses before signing up for the exam.

I started AP Calculus AB this past week, and I feel uncertain about the future content in the course. I am skeptical to pay $99 for the exam soon, considering I am unaware of the potential difficulty of the material. For other students, it’s a guessing game trying to decide whether to put forth the funds for an exam they know little to nothing about.

However, after more information has been released, I feel more at ease with signing up for all of my AP exams. Guessing games have been ceased because College Board is on the students’ side by implementing helpful AP exam procedures.

A major change was made to the past cancellation fee that previously inhibited students from cancelling their exams after registration. This school year, College Board is offering a no-cancellation fee prior to the exam date, contrasting to the policy in past years. Therefore, there is no financial risk for cancelling an exam at a later date when signing up on time. Students should register for all AP exams available to them in order to capitalize on this major change.

Since there is no risk if I decide to cancel my test at a later date, I still registered and paid for all my AP courses, including AP Calculus AB. I still plan to cancel the exam later on if I feel too unprepared to ultimately pay for it. Students need to take advantage of the lack of cancellation fees this year because it likely won’t be enforced again.

In contrast, a $40 fee for late exam registration will still be in effect this year. Unlike the previous policy for AP exams, the late fee will not be refundable if students choose to register after Sunday, Nov. 8. I strongly urge students to sign up on time in order to avoid this and the notion of potentially getting waitlisted.

Students who are eligible for free or reduced lunches also can apply for full waivers, making AP exams available to those students at no cost.

College Board is in favor of students this year. With the chaoticness of our world at the moment, the financial stress of AP exams has been lessened in an act to make the process a little easier. In addition, the two step online process for registration and payment is staying the same as previous years.

For students continuing to do virtual school, the actual testing atmosphere is unclear. As of now, there is a plan in place to have physical testing in school. College Board plans on releasing more information about in-school or online testing procedures sometime in Spring 2021 with respect to the current COVID-19 standings at that time.

Students who plan on continuing online school throughout the year should strongly consider still signing up for their exams, especially because there is a possibility exams may be administered remotely as they were last school year. Virtual students shouldn’t ignore taking AP exams this year since some sort of change in both atmospheres will have to be implemented in order to account for COVID-19.

Take your AP exams.