Test Prep

College Board Makes Big Change to AP Test Registration Deadlines

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The College Board, creator of the SAT and the Advanced Placement (AP) exams, has announced that it is moving up the AP exam registration deadline by several months, from March to November of the previous semester. Although students still have until next month to sign up for this May's AP exams, they will have to register by November 2019 for the May 2020 AP tests.

The cost to register for the exam remains unchanged at $94, but there will be a $40 late registration fee if a student signs up for the exam after the November deadline. Students will also be charged a $40 cancellation fee if they cannot take the exam on the given date or if they change their mind.

A more positive side to these changes: Students and teachers will now have access to an entire database of extra AP test prep materials through their College Board accounts. Teachers of AP courses will be able to access instructional videos and over 15,000 exam questions from previous AP tests, which can be used in the classroom all year long to help students prepare for the May exams.

Students will have a dashboard that helps monitor progress as they work through online practice material, including immediate feedback as they go through practice questions.

All changes will take effect on August 1 this year.

What's Behind These Changes

The decision to make the exam registration deadline months earlier was based on the results of a 2017-2018 pilot program. The program involved 40,000 students around the country who switched to the November registration deadline. The participating schools, which also were given access to the new practice materials, saw a significant spike in AP exam registrations in general, but especially from a more diverse group of students that had never registered when the deadline was in March.

AP program officials and some teachers from the pilot program have pointed out that when students are already registered for exams by November of the year before, they are able to learn the material more effectively during their AP classes. The reasoning is that if a student in an AP course already knows by November that he or she will be taking the associated exam in May, the student will be more attentive to the course material because there is a concrete goal ahead – a goal that is shared by all or most students enrolled in that course. On the other hand, when registering in March, the student has just under two months to refresh his or her knowledge of the AP course material.

However, a faction of high school teachers and counselors are protesting this deadline change, as well as the late registration fee and cancellation fee, claiming that the College Board is just trying to boost its bottom line. However, College Board notes that it expects 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."