Students failing college AP test due to unsupported HEIC iPhone photo format

High school students fail their college entrance exams when they upload photos taken with an iPhone or iPad and photos saved in HEIC format, forcing many students to rewrite the exams.

For all the ways that technology improves our lives, it sometimes ends up being the main cause of our problems. Thousands of students recently failed their college AP exams when they attempted to download iPhone and iPad images produced from 2017.

The Verge reported the case of Nick Bryner, a high school student in California. Bryner had chosen to take a photo of his handwritten response and upload it to the College Board website – the administrator of the AP exam.

Unfortunately for Bryner – and thousands of other students – the download would expire. Once the stopwatch reached zero, the students automatically failed and were told that they could retake the test in three weeks.

In fact, the problem is the iPhone – and some newer Android phones. The problem arises when a student attempts to upload an image that has been captured in HEIC, a high-efficiency format, to the College Board website.

HEICs are smaller than comparable image formats, allowing users to store more images on their phone or in the cloud. The downside is that HEIC photos are not widely supported.

College Board only accepts JPG, JPEG and PNG images. In addition, their site does not try to automatically convert HEICs to a compatible file format.

The College Board is now working with students to help them submit their responses without fear of automatically failing. They have opened additional support for those who have problems downloading their responses. They also point out that less than one percent of the students had this particular problem.

Of course, all of this can be avoided by simply changing the photo format used by your iPhone. This process can be done in seconds.

  • Open the Settings app
  • Scroll down and press Camera
  • Tap Formats
  • Tap “Most compatible”
  • The most compatible setting tells your iPhone to use a JPEG setting, rather than the default HEIC. This is useful advice not only for applicants, but for anyone who has regular problems uploading images from their phone to a website that has not been updated to the format introduced for the first time on iPhone and iPad with iOS 11 in 2017.

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