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What Is the AP Program?

The Advanced Placement® Program (AP) is an academic program that gives high school students an opportunity to do college-level coursework. There are 38 AP courses available in a wide range of subjects. AP Exams are given each year in May.

Why Do Students Take AP?

There are several reasons why students choose to take AP courses and exams:

  • College admission officers look for challenging courses—such as AP classes—on applications.
  • Many colleges grant credit, placement in advanced college classes, or both for qualifying scores on AP Exams.
  • AP courses give students a chance to build the academic skills they need in college.
  • AP courses challenge students and let them experience what college courses will be like.

How Does Pre-AP Set Students Up for Success in AP?

The Pre-AP Program is designed to give all students the opportunity to learn the foundational knowledge and skills they need to succeed in AP and other college-level coursework. Participation in Pre-AP courses allows students to slow down and focus on the most essential and relevant concepts and skills. Students have frequent opportunities to engage deeply with texts, sources, and data as well as compelling higher-order questions and problems. Across Pre-AP courses, students experience shared instructional practices and routines that help them develop and strengthen the important critical thinking skills that help them succeed in AP.

  • All Pre-AP frameworks are back mapped from Advanced Placement expectations.
  • Pre-AP courses offer schools instructional frameworks and resources, student practice, and formative assessments in motivating, engaging courses that give all students the chance to become AP ready.
  • Pre-AP performance tasks model AP free response questions (FRQ) and provide teachers with the opportunity to evaluate the depth of student understanding and mastery of the skills not easily assessed on multiple-choice assessments.
  • The consistent instructional model of plan, teach, and assess provides continuity for students and teachers across all courses.

Pre-AP to AP Course Map

Pre-AP courses are directly back mapped from AP course expectations. You can see these specific course mappings below.

Pre-AP Course AP Course
Pre-AP English 1 & 2 AP English Language and Composition
AP English Literature and Composition
Pre-AP World History & Geography AP European History
AP Human Geography
AP United States History
AP World History: Modern
Pre-AP Biology AP Biology
Pre-AP Chemistry AP Chemistry
Pre-AP Algebra 1 AP Calculus AB
AP Statistics
AP Computer Science Principles
Pre-AP Geometry with Statistics AP Calculus AB
AP Statistics
Pre-AP Algebra 2 (available academic year 2022-23) AP Calculus AB
AP Statistics
Pre-AP Visual Arts AP Art and Design (AP 2-D Art and Design, AP 3-D Art and Design, and AP Drawing)

What Is the AP Capstone Diploma Program?

AP Capstone™ is a diploma program based on two yearlong AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. These courses are designed to complement other AP courses that the AP Capstone student may take.

Instead of teaching specific subject knowledge, AP Seminar and AP Research use an interdisciplinary approach to develop the critical thinking, research, collaboration, time management, and presentation skills students need for college-level work.

College Board developed the AP Capstone DiplomaTM program at the request of higher education professionals, who saw a need for a systematic way for high school students to begin mastering these skills before college. 

This program is not curriculum-based; rather, it provides a pedagogical framework to guide students through developing, practicing, and honing their critical and creative thinking skills as they make connections between various issues and their own lives.

This program does not provide a complete curriculum.

How Does Pre-AP Set Students Up for Success in AP Capstone Courses?

These two programs share basic learning tenets and methodologies, providing a natural bridge for students to succeed in AP Capstone.

Both programs:

  • Are designed to prepare students for challenging high school and college coursework, career, and beyond.
  • Provide frameworks that take an interdisciplinary, skills-based approach to student learning, with flexibility to support your local instructional requirements.
  • Have student-centered courses that emphasize key critical thinking, collaboration, and speaking and listening skills students need for college-level work.
  • Provide high-quality instruction and assessments designed to serve all students.
  • Offer professional learning opportunities for teachers.
  • Provide schools with academic distinction, as both programs are widely recognized for their skills focus and innovation.