US students are failing AP exams because the testing portal can’t handle iPhone’s HEIC photos

May 22, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

US students are failing AP exams because the testing portal can’t handle iPhone’s HEIC photos

May 22, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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The coronavirus pandemic has moved all teaching, learning, and test taking online. However, there have been some hiccups with the Advanced Placement (AP) exams for US high school students. Those with iPhones have been failing the test because the College Board’s portal doesn’t support HEIC image format.

The schools across the US began closing in March due to the current pandemic. Therefore, the students were instructed to take their AP exams online. They need to provide long-form answers and there are two options to submit them: either in typing or handwriting. If they choose to handwrite their answers, the students need to take a photo of their response and submit it – and here’s where the problem appears.

According to a report from The Verge, the problem lies in HEIC format supported by iPhones (and a few models of Samsung phones). When students complete the test and submit a photo of a handwritten response, the website gets stuck on the loading screen until their time runs out. This makes them fail the test and they need to retake it.

The College Board told The Verge that “the vast majority of students successfully completed their exams,” with “less than 1 percent” of them who experienced the issue. However, it looks like the problem was still common enough that College Board sent out an email to help students overcome any issues for retakes. Among other things, the email links to the webpage with tips for avoiding problems. This page instructs the students to change their phone settings so that they capture JPEG images instead of HEIC. A few days ago, the College Board tweeted the instructions for changing the phone’s default format, and they have also been added to its FAQ page.

Alternatively, you can convert a HEIC image into JPG, but I think it’s safer to just set your phone so it captures JPG in the first place. Students who had trouble submitting their responses will, fortunately, be able to retake the exams in the following weeks.

[via DPReview]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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5 responses to “US students are failing AP exams because the testing portal can’t handle iPhone’s HEIC photos”

  1. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
    Adrian J Nyaoi

    They fail because they are stupid and not reading the instuction.

    1. Brenda Jamieson Avatar
      Brenda Jamieson

      Adrian J Nyaoi why don’t you enlighten them?

      1. Volker Bartheld Avatar
        Volker Bartheld

        Because someone else has done that already by creating a submission guideline. From there: “[…] Accepted file formats: .png, .jpg, .jpeg […] Minimum file size: 10 KB […] Maximum file size: 25 MB […]”. The main document says: “[…] The HEIC photo file format common to Apple® devices can’t be submitted as is; see the relevant FAQ about HEIC files below. […]”.

        Sure we can start nitpicking now, about what difference there is between JPG and JPEG and that the aformentioned “formats” are rather containers – in case of JPG that would be JFIF – allowing a plethora of different encodings where at least a subset is probably not supported by the average image viewer. And of course, the aforementioned submission guildelines could have been modified/extended in malicious intent, after the incident went public.

        But suffice it to say that the High Efficiency Image File Format (aka. HEIF) is not mentioned in the list and we have a simple case of “my house, my rules” here.

        On the other hand there’s probably a human being having to take a look at the exam pictures anyway (I doubt that those tests are of the multiple choice type and some image processing tool processes them automatically). So I consider it quite strange, antiquated and a bit unfair as well to just bluntly declare the test failed. The HEVC standard was introduced five years ago, royalty free options exist and even IrfanView supports it.

    2. Jürg Wolf Avatar
      Jürg Wolf

      Adrian J Nyaoi they fail because the developer of the server software were so stupid to ignore the newer ISO standardized picture format that exists now for …. wait … already three years!
      Wow!

    3. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
      Adrian J Nyaoi

      They were told before hand and given instuction on how to handle the situation. If they can’t follow instruction then what can I say? Aren’t they stupid.