iPhone's HEIC Format Causing Some Students to Fail AP Exams, Here's How to Fix It

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Some high school students taking their AP exams online have run into serious trouble with the HEIC image format on the iPhone and the iPad, which does not work with the website the AP College Board uses to accept tests.

ap exam information
As outlined by The Verge, AP exams taken by high school students in the United States have a written component, and the exam requires students to take and upload a photo of their written responses.

Some high schoolers who used an ‌iPhone‌ to upload the photo ran into problems with the HEIC format, which would not upload and caused the students to fail the exam. There are thousands of students who will now need to retake their AP exams, and they're unhappy that the College Board did not anticipate the error before some of the exams were conducted.

The College Board has now provided express instructions to students, letting them know to swap over to a JPEG format on their devices or to convert an HEIC image to JPEG before submitting it. Here are the College Board's instructions:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to Camera and tap it.
  3. Tap on the Formats option. heicformatiphone
  4. Select "Most Compatible."

With the Most Compatible option selected, photos will always be saved as JPEGs instead of in the HEIC file format.

Alternatively, students who have already saved exam photos as HEIC can convert them to JPEGs by mailing the photos to themselves using the Mail app on an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌, which the College Board says is the most reliable way to ensure a file conversion.

The College Board also plans to allow some students who run into issues submitting their tests to provide the images through email, and as mentioned above, the Mail app will do image conversions automatically. This is an option only for future exams, with students who already failed still required to retake the tests.

Apple has been using the HEIC image format since the 2017 release of iOS 11 because HEIC images are smaller than JPEGs, but the HEIC format has not been widely adopted by websites and internet services. Some newer Android smartphones also use the HEIC format.

Tag: HEIF

Top Rated Comments

zorinlynx Avatar
27 weeks ago
How in the blazes do these people think it's easier to get everyone to change a setting on their phones than to just update the software to accept HEIC?

Any even slightly competent web developer can add the code to convert the image if it's in HEIC, and the libraries to do so are open source and free.
Score: 62 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kurosov Avatar
27 weeks ago


The instructions on the College Boards website look very clear to me - with images and step by step instructions on how to save as JPEG's. I am sorry, I am more worried about the quality of these students who couldn't even follow those instructions if they are sitting for "Advanced" placement tests to get into college.

You expect students to be able to follow step by step instructions before they were written?
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iMerik Avatar
27 weeks ago


It's almost like the instructions went up on the website after the exams went live or something. Yet here you are criticizing the students.

Criticizing the students for not following nonexistent instructions while not reading and comprehending the article. :D Good times.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
teknikal90 Avatar
27 weeks ago
i cannot understand how this problem was not identified earlier before the software went live.
Any software devs here that could explain?

It seems like an obvious thing...get an iphone, what lots of people in the US use, and try it before it goes live.
There are only two platforms after all...
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yngrshr Avatar
27 weeks ago


Maybe I'm misreading it, but I took "The College Board has now provided express instructions to students..." to mean that those images and step-by-step instructions were not originally provided to the students that ran into issues.

This is correct, which makes me worried about the quality of the poster who couldn't even follow a simple timeline on how this occurred.


Apple barely does any usability testing with actual customers before shipping out their products and software.

This is not remotely an Apple problem.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iMerik Avatar
27 weeks ago


The instructions on the College Boards website look very clear to me - with images and step by step instructions on how to save as JPEG's. I am sorry, I am more worried about the quality of these students who couldn't even follow those instructions if they are sitting for "Advanced" placement tests to get into college.

Maybe I'm misreading it, but I took "The College Board has now provided express instructions to students..." to mean that those images and step-by-step instructions were not originally provided to the students that ran into issues.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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