Education Technology

Top Tips From a Math Teacher for Taking the Online AP® Exam

Posted 05/01/2020 by Kim Thomas, AP® test reader

This year’s AP® exams will be given May 11–22. Each subject's exam will be taken on the same day at the same time, worldwide.

As all 2020 spring AP® tests move online, I’m breaking down my top tips for math teachers, students and parents to prepare for this new format. The switch to digital testing entails some important changes that students and teachers must stay abreast of, and address, through their study and preparation efforts.

Tips for teachers:

  • Make sure students know when they are taking their exam. Encourage them to log in 30 minutes prior to the start time.
  • Make sure students know what day it is today and every day up to the day of the test. I have a few students that tell me that they forgot to do an assignment or attend an online class because they forgot what day it was or didn’t realize the time.
  • I am using a variety of resources and considering different perspectives. The TI in Focus: AP® Calculus Resources are a great way to refresh teacher knowledge on a problem or how a problem should be graded. As an AP® reader, I reference the PDF slides often and appreciate the extensions that are provided for different problems.
  • I am also watching the YouTube lessons supported by College Board®.
  • Also, still find fun things to do with students that you would normally do in the classroom that build relationships and unity. It can be as simple as playing a video like “Calculus Rhapsody” or sharing some Calculus memes.
  • Set a countdown reminder for your students. If it were in my classroom, there would be a number that we would tear down each day with a Calculus meme on it. Instead, I’m using Remind to communicate with my kids.

Tips for students:

  • Practice with a timer.
  • Communicate to your family the date and time of your exam.
  • Set up quiet zones and times when you will focus on AP® Calculus. Consider it a mock exam for the entire household. Make sure the Wi-Fi is not being overtaxed.

Tips for parents:

  • Know the time of your student’s AP® exam.
  • Encourage your student to study for the AP® exam in the same spot and at the same time as the exam.
  • Ask to look at your student’s work. Have your teen practice scanning and then sending you their work. If it is not legible, that will be a problem. You don’t need to understand what is written, but you do have to be able to make out what is written.
  • In general, motivation, or lack of it, is the biggest obstacle right now. Teens need to feel like their hard work is being recognized, so let them know that you are proud of their efforts.

AP® and College Board® are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product. Policies subject to change. Visit

About the author: Kim Thomas is a math teacher at Moon Valley High School in Phoenix. She is also a Title I Coordinator, a T³™ National instructor and National Board Certified Teacher. She teaches BC calculus and geometry and is a reader for the AP® exam.