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The Revised AP Environmental Science Exam For 2020

*Updated April 3, 2020

The College Board has modified the AP Environmental Science exam, and all other AP exams, in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19.

The AP Environmental Science exam for 2020 will be shorter, administered online, cover less material, and have a different format than previous tests. 

Here are the key changes you need to know to do well in the upcoming AP Environmental Science exam. 

Will I get AP credit for the modified AP Environmental Science exam?

Students who take the 2020 AP Environmental Science exam will be eligible for college credit, according to the College Board: “Colleges support this solution and are committed to ensuring that AP students receive the credit they have worked this year to earn. For decades, colleges have accepted a shortened AP Exam for college credit when groups of students have experienced emergencies.”

As in previous years, a student must obtain a score of 3, 4 or 5 to be eligible for college credit. 

Source: The College Board

How long is the 2020 AP Environmental Science exam?

The online 2020 AP Environmental Science exam will be just 45 minutes long, instead of the two hours and 40 minutes it took in previous years, and can be taken at home (if schools are still closed on exam day) or at school.

What is the AP Environmental Science exam format for 2020?

The 2020 AP Environmental Science exam will be an open book/open note exam based entirely on free-response questions. There will be no multiple choice questions as there were in the past.

For free examples of free-response questions, check here for the actual questions posed in the 2019 AP Environmental Science exam and here for those posed in the 2018 AP Environmental Science exam.

What device should I use to take the 2020 AP Environmental Science exam?

You can take the exam on any device you have access to, including a computer, tablet or a smartphone. You should make the determination of which device works best for you beforehand. 

You are also allowed to submit a photo of your handwritten work. 

What if I don’t have internet access?

If you need access to the internet or a working computer, contact the College Board here for help. The College Board is committed to making the 2020 AP Environmental Science exam work for all students: “We recognize that the digital divide could prevent some low-income and rural students from participating. Working with partners, we will invest so that these students have the tools and connectivity they need to review AP content online and take the exam.”

What will be tested on the 2020 AP Environmental Science exam? 

You will be tested only on material from Units 1 through 7, so you should be prepared to answer questions on these topics:

  • Unit 1: The Living World: Ecosystems
  • Unit 2: The Living World: Biodiversity
  • Unit 3: Populations 
  • Unit 4: Earth Systems and Resources
  • Unit 5: Land and Water Use
  • Unit 6: Energy Resources and Consumption
  • Unit 7: Atmospheric Pollution

What will not be tested on the 2020 AP Environmental Science exam?

You won’t be tested on material from Units 8 and 9. 

  • Unit 8: Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution
  • Unit 9: Global Change

Are exam question types and sample questions available for the 2020 AP Environmental Science exam?

The AP Environmental Science exam will consist of two questions, one asking students to design an investigation question and one asking students to analyze an environmental problem and propose a solution. Check here for a description of the questions. 

You will have 25 minutes to read and respond to the first question and five minutes to upload your response. Then you will have 15 minutes for the second question plus another five minutes to upload your response.

What’s the 2020 AP Environmental Science exam date and time?

The College Board is offering two exam dates for each AP exam this year. 

The AP Environmental Science exam is scheduled for Monday, May 18 at these times:

  • Hawaii Time: 10 a.m.
  • Alaska Time: 12 p.m.
  • Pacific Time: 1 p.m.
  • Mountain Time: 2 p.m.
  • Central Time: 3 p.m.
  • Eastern Time: 4 p.m.

The AP Environmental Science make-up exam will be held on Wednesday, June 3 at these times:

  • Hawaii Time: 8 a.m.
  • Alaska Time: 10 a.m.
  • Pacific Time: 11 a.m.
  • Mountain Time: 12 p.m.
  • Central Time: 1 p.m.
  • Eastern Time: 2 p.m.

Note: Unless you have a scheduling conflict, you should plan on taking your AP Environmental Science exam on the primary date. This way, you can take it on the make-up date if it turns out you can’t take it on the primary date.

Is the College Board offering any free AP Environmental Science exam review courses? 

The College Board is committed to making free resources available to students through exam day.

Live classes and recordings delivered by AP teachers from across the country are available on the AP YouTube channel. You can find the daily course schedule here

Note: The AP Environmental Science review courses will also cover topics that have been excluded from this year’s exams.

What are my other options for preparing for the 2020 AP Environmental Science exam?

If you don’t have an AP Environmental Science review book already and can’t get it on time through Amazon, which has recently confirmed that even Amazon Prime deliveries of non-essential goods could be delayed a month, try eBay or other alternate sources. 

And don’t worry if you have problems getting your book delivered early enough to help you with your prep. There are online resources that you can use to help you prepare for the 2020 AP Environmental Science exam. 


In line with its mission to create inclusive and social learning experiences available to every student, Fiveable has a rich resource of free videos, trivia and study guides for the AP Environmental Science exam. 

In addition, Fiveable is offering a Cram Pass for just $35 per AP exam. This fee is further reduced when you purchase more Cram Passes — $50 for two AP exams and $60 for three AP exams. On top of that, students get a 10% discount with a special TUN coupon — just enter “TUN10%” as your coupon code upon checkout.

Fiveable also offers financial aid for students who can’t afford a Cram Pass. 

The Cram Pass includes 10 live-streamed lessons or cram sessions, which are about an hour long but may sometimes be longer if there are extra questions from students, downloadable replays, and practice prompts and feedback. Also, the night before the exam, Fiveable will host a live open forum Q&A to help students prepare. Fiveable cram teachers will tailor their sessions to align with the changes in the 2020 AP Environmental Science exam. 

For now, cram sessions are scheduled for every Monday at 7 p.m., starting on March 30. Fiveable will add May dates once the College Board announces the test date and add five stream dates on April 3.

According to Fiveable, 92% of students who use Fiveable to help them prepare for their AP exams pass their exams with 70% earning a 4 or higher score.

If you’re taking more than one AP exam in 2020, check here for details on other revised AP exams.