KEY POINTS

  • Thousands of students failed their AP tests because of a wrong file format
  • The test portal didn't support the HEIC image format used by the students
  • More than 23,000 students have signed a petition asking to be allowed to resubmit

Tens of thousands of students have signed an online petition to the College Board to allow them to resubmit their AP tests taken recently. They failed in the tests not because they didn't prepare for it or did not do their best while taking it. Rather, they failed because the test portal where they will submit their test answers to didn't offer support for the file format they used – HEIC.

As per the College Board, the AP exams require longform answers that students can either type into a document, or be written by hand then submitted by taking a photo of the finished work. Those who choose to write their answers by hand will need to take a photo of their answers, save it as a JPG, JPEG or PNG file, then submit it to the College Board's test portal.

Many students chose to write their responses by hand, but many of them failed the exams because they used a different image format called HEIC. This is the format that iPhones, as well as newer Android phones (such as those from Samsung), use in order to save on space. The College Board's test portal didn't support this format, which led to the students “failing.”

A Harvard student sits with her belongings before returning home on March 12, 2020, as students left campus due to the coronavirus pandemic A Harvard student sits with her belongings before returning home on March 12, 2020, as students left campus due to the coronavirus pandemic Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Maddie Meyer

According to The Verge, many of these students actually finished writing their test answers by hand well within the allowed period of time. They, however, didn't make it because the portal wouldn't accept their answers due to their HEIC format. Many of them are schedule to retake the tests in a few weeks' time.

Some might think that the format issue could've been avoided very easily, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Some students tried renaming the file to JPEG but failed. One student even tried to convert the file using OneDrive and Windows Photo, but ran out of time while uploading the file.

What's more, Apple has buried the option to save camera images as JPEG files deep in the device's settings. This is “something that no one is thinking about going into the test,” a student who experienced the same issue told The Verge.