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2021 AP Art and Design Exam Guide

7 min readโ€ขfebruary 28, 2021


AP Art & Designย ๐ŸŽจ

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Your guide to the 2021 AP Art and Design exam

We know that studying for your AP exams can be stressful, but Fiveable has your back! We have created a plan that will help you crush your Art and Design exam and create a beautiful sustained investigation. We will continue to update this guide with more information about the 2021 exams, as well as helpful resources to help you score that 5. Create a Fiveable account and join our Discord to stay involved in all things AP exams! ๐Ÿ˜

Resources:

Format of the 2021 AP Art and Design exam

This year, all AP exams will cover all units and essay types. The 2021 Art and Design exam format will be:

AP 2-D Art and Design Portfolio

  • The Selected Works consists of 5 works demonstrating 2-D skills and synthesis of materials, processes and ideas.
    • Along with each work, you have to write about the ideas evident, the materials used, and the processes that were utilized (100 characters maximum per section).ย 
  • The Sustained Investigation (SI) consists of 15 digital images demonstrating sustained investigation through practice, experimentation and revision, along with sustained investigation and synthesis of materials, processes, and ideas, and your 2-D skills.
    • In writing you have to include the guiding question or inquiry for your sustained investigation and describe how your SI shows practice, experimentation, and revision that was guided by your chosen question.ย 
    • For each image you submit, you have to include the materials and processes used along with its size. Be sure to write it as height x width x depth in inches if itโ€™s an image of physical work!

AP Drawing Portfolio

  • The Selected Works consists of 5 works that show your drawing skills and synthesis of materials, processes and ideas.
    • Along with each work, you have to write about the ideas evident, the materials used, and the processes that were utilized (100 characters maximum per section).
  • The Sustained Investigation is made up of 15 digital images demonstrating sustained investigation through practice, experimentation and revision, along with sustained investigation and synthesis of materials, processes, and ideas, and your drawing abilities.
    • In writing you have to include the guiding question or inquiry for your sustained investigation and describe how your SI shows practice, experimentation, and revision that was guided by your chosen question.ย 
    • For each image you submit, you have to include the materials and processes used along with its size. Be sure to write it as height x width x depth in inches if itโ€™s an image of physical work!

AP 3-D Art and Design Portfolios

  • The Selected Works consists of 5 works with 2 views of each, so 10 images in total, that show your 3-D skills and synthesis of materials, processes and ideas.
    • Along with each work, you have to write about the ideas evident, the materials used, and the processes that were utilized (100 characters maximum per section).
  • The Sustained Investigation is made up of 15 digital images demonstrating sustained investigation through practice, experimentation and revision, along with sustained investigation and synthesis of materials, processes, and ideas, and your 3-D skills.
    • In writing you have to include the guiding question or inquiry for your sustained investigation and describe how your SI shows practice, experimentation, and revision that was guided by your chosen question.ย 
    • For each image you submit, you have to include the materials and processes used along with its size. Be sure to write it as height x width x depth in inches!

Scoring Rubric for the 2021 AP Art and Design exam

Selected Works

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2FScreen%20Shot%202021-01-31%20at%203.49-RpviRjznkzM4.png?alt=media&token=d7632083-9ea1-4dd3-a051-69aaf6983369

Courtesy of College Board

Sustained Investigation

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2FScreen%20Shot%202021-01-31%20at%203.51-gNOBBhMmLFNP.png?alt=media&token=38267c6d-8bdc-4615-b0d5-0c8eb23c55e3

Courtesy of College Board

Check out our study plan below to find resources and tools to prepare for your AP Art and Design exam.

When is the 2021 AP Art and Design Portfolio Deadline?

The portfolio is due by your teacherโ€™s established deadline. Your AP coordinator will forward your completed portfolio to the AP Program by 11:59 p.m. ET on May 20, 2021. The portfolio will be uploaded online through the digital submission web application. We will have more updates from the College Board soon, but as of now, this is what we know! Create a Fiveable account to get updates on the latest 2021 exam news.ย 

How should I prepare for the exam?

  • First, download the AP Art & Design Cram Chart PDF - a single sheet that covers everything you need to know at a high level. Take note of your strengths and weaknesses!
  • Review each rubric, and focus on the areas of your sustained investigation that need the most improvement. We've put together this plan to help you study between now and May to make sure you covered all of the bases in your portfolio!
  • Additionally, create your schedule ahead of time so that you can connect with other students instead of just creating artwork alone! Join our Discord channel to talk to real students just like you preparing for the AP Art exam.
  • Resources:

    Pre-work: set up your working environment

    Before we begin, take some time to get organized. Remote learning can be great, but it also means youโ€™ll need to hold yourself accountable more than usual.ย 
    ๐Ÿ“… Plan designated times for working and preparing.
    The hardest part about studying from home is sticking to a routine. Decide on one hour every day that you can dedicate to brainstorming or creating your next piece. This can be any time of the day, whatever works best for you. Set a timer on your phone for that time and really try to stick to it. The routine will help you stay on track to complete every piece needed by May.
    ๐Ÿ† Decide on an accountability plan.
    How will you hold yourself accountable? You may or may not have a teacher or rules set up to help you stay on track, so you need to set some for yourself. First set your goal. This could be brainstorming for x number of hours or completing a piece or two with their corresponding writing sections. Then, create a reward for yourself. If you reach your goal, then x. This will help stay focused!
    ๐Ÿค Get support from your peers.ย 
    There are thousands of students all over the world who are preparing for their AP exams just like you! Join our Discord channel to chat, ask questions, and meet other students who are also studying for the spring exams. You can even give each other feedback and prepare together!

    AP Art and Design 2021 Study Plan

    ๐Ÿ”–Unit 1: Course Overview

    Unit Summary:

    There are three traditional Studio Art classes. Those are AP Two-Dimensional Design (AP2D), AP Three-Dimensional Design (AP3D), and AP Drawing. All of these classes are typically year-long production classes revolving around a student-driven inquiry that is explored artistically.

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read this study guide:

    Resources:

    ๐Ÿฅ Unit 2: Portfolio Design Skills

    Unit Summary:

    There are two parts to the AP Art and Design portfolio, the Sustained Investigation and the Selected Works. Together, these two parts create your AP submission. You need to complete both parts. What you create for these parts depends on which portfolio (2D, 3D, or Draw) you are submitting. No matter what your idea or your media, there are certain principles of design that are used to create cohesion in your work.

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:

    Resources:

    If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

    ๐Ÿ’ป Review these CollegeBoard videos:

    ๐Ÿค” Unit 3: Portfolio Analysis

    Unit Summary:

    A portfolio is a sample of your art. All artists have a portfolio showing their work. It's what you use to show off your style, your skill level, your previous work, any particular media you use, and any themes you tend to work in. It's your work sample. It's what you use to allow people to see your work. For Artists, it's a visual resume of what they are capable of doing. For AP Art and Design, you submit your portfolio for grading. It is, in effect, your "test".

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:

    Resources:

    If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

    ๐Ÿ’ป Review these CollegeBoard videos:

    ๐Ÿ’ฏ Unit 4: Exam Rubrics

    Unit Summary:

    There are two parts to your AP Art and Design test, the Sustained Investigation and the Selected Works. Each one of these has a rubric designed for that section that measures specific "requirements and prompts" that you need to successfully demonstrate. The College Board (CB) states that the rubric is "the contract with the student", so it is incredibly important that you understand what they are talking about in it. They will be broken down for you, but here is the College Board site for more information: Selected Works and Sustained Investigation Rubrics.

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:

    Resources:

    If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

    ๐Ÿ’ป Review this CollegeBoard video:

    ๐Ÿ’ก Unit 5: Tips and Tricks

    Unit Summary:
    In this section, we will cover some tips and tricks to make your portfolio the best it can be. You should have high-quality photos for your portfolio and avoid overly personal or broad themes or copyrighted characters. These tricks can significantly improve the quality of your profile and increase your chance of scoring a 5!
    Definitely do this:
    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:
    If you have more time or want to dig deeper:
    ๐Ÿ’ป Review these CollegeBoard videos:

    Resources:

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