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.
If you want to submit a photo of a handwritten AP Exam answer from an iPhone or iPad, make sure to change your camera settings so your photos are saved as JPEGs, not HEICs. Go to Settings > Camera > Formats > Select “Most Compatible.”
— The College Board (@CollegeBoard) May 12, 2020
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.