The rules behind AP tests, Scripps Ranch exam debacle

Posted at 12:35 PM, Jul 06, 2017

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego Unified School District and College Board officials met Thursday over the ongoing debacle about AP test scores deemed invalid following seating violations.

Scripps Ranch High School students were told last week their original test scores would be nullified after exam officials said testing stations were incorrectly laid out.

"First of all, the distance the students were seated should've been an 8-foot table and instead it was a 6-foot table," Kevin Beiser, of the San Diego Unified School District, said last week. "And to make sure there were not opportunities for student cheating there was a divider put in between so the students could not see each other's work."

Now, College Board's guidelines are being examined by students and parents alike to find out if there is some way to save their hard-earned scores.


Per the College Board's guidelines on seating students for AP Exams (except select exams) must be seated no less than five feet apart, measured from the center of one student's testing seat to the next student.

Students in all exams must also be facing the same direction and seated directly behind, not directly beside, one another.

Other guidelines dictate:

  • Assign seats randomly (not alphabetically or following an expected pattern) within the testing room. Under no circumstances are students permitted to select their own seats.
  • You may seat more than one student at a table, but only if all students face the same direction, are seated on the same side of the table, and the five-foot distance between students can be maintained. (To maintain this distance, a table must be at least eight feet in length to accommodate two students and at least 13 feet to accommodate three students.)
  • Round tables are prohibited for testing.
  • The desk or work surface should be an adequate size for each student and must have a minimum writing surface of 12 inches by 15 inches.

For AP Exams for Calculus AB, Calculus BC, and U.S. History, students must be seated no less than four feet apart.

College Board reserves the right to cancel scores when, "in our judgment, there is substantial evidence that they are invalid for any reason." That evidence may include:

  • Plagiarism,
  • Discrepant handwriting,
  • Unusual answer patterns, or
  • Inconsistent performance on different parts of the exam or text that is similar to that in other free responses.

College Board further states that if testing irregularities (such as defective material, improper seating, or failure on behalf of school administration to follow rules) occur, they may "decline to score the exams of one or more students, and it may cancel the scores of one or more students when it determines that such actions are required to protect the integrity of the exam. We may do so whether or not the affected students caused the testing irregularities, benefited from them, or engaged in misconduct."