Starting in fall of 2019, the College Board implemented a few important changes to the AP exam registration process.
In the past, most students waited until spring to register for the May AP exams. Some students liked this flexibility: It allowed them to wait to decide whether to take the May AP exam until after they had a good idea of how well they were mastering the course material.
Now schools are required to register for AP exams by November 15, which means that students must make the decision to take AP exams just weeks into their AP courses. The College Board’s research shows that students perform better on end-of-year exams if they commit to taking those exams early in the school year.
This makes sense: after all, having clearly defined goals provides motivation.
Note that AP exam registration is still done through students’ schools, and some schools may establish different registration deadlines or fee schedules. The College Board’s changes will likely affect your school’s registration process.
So should you register for AP exams?
Unless finances are a limiting factor (AP exams can be costly), we recommend registering for the AP exams before the November 15 registration deadline. You’ll benefit from the motivation of preparing for the end-of-year exams. If you ultimately decide that you don’t want to take the exam, you can cancel your registration later (though there is a fee).
Can you change your mind in the spring?
Any changes to registration status after the November 15 deadline will incur a $40 fee. If you register for an exam that you ultimately decide not to take, there’s a $40 cancellation fee. If you don’t register for an exam and then you change your mind, there’s a $40 late registration fee.