More Students Are Successfully Taking AP Courses

More Students Are Successfully Taking AP Courses
  • Opening Intro -

    The College Board has released its 9th Annual AP Report to the Nation, providing a glimpse at what high school students are doing to prepare themselves for college.


The current report shows that while a significant number of students are taking AP courses, hundreds of thousands of students deemed test-ready are not.

AP Courses

The College Board has been running the Advanced Placement or AP program since 1955. Currently, 34 courses are offered in language arts, mathematics, science and other disciplines. These courses are accepted by numerous colleges and universities, enabling students to start their higher education pursuits while yet in high school.

AP courses are also an indicator of student potential in college. Students that succeed on an AP exam while in high school generally fare better in college than those that do not take an exam. Further, college completion rates are higher for students that are academically prepared, what AP course work provides.

Course Participation

AP participation has been rising steadily with 32.4 percent of high school graduates taking AP exams in 2012, up from 30.2 percent in 2011. In 2002, just 18 percent of high school graduates took the exam, or half the number of students that take the exam today.

Exam success rates are determined on a scale ranging from 1 to 5. Exam takers achieving a score of 3 or higher are deemed to have succeeded. A score of “5” indicates that the student is extremely well qualified while a score of “4” indicates that she is well qualified. Achieving a score of “3” means the student is qualified. Educational institutions will usually take the two top scores with some not accepting the middle score.

AP Access

Not all high school students have access to AP courses, with the College Board noting that a disproportionate number of minority students are unable to participate. These students are missing out on the three goals of the AP preparedness: increasing rigor, promoting equity and developing critical knowledge and skills. In the past year more than one-third of the states as well as the District of Columbia managed to narrow the success gap which shows that Asian Americans are twice as likely to succeed on the AP exam than their Latino or black counterparts. Still, access on the school level shows that much room for improvement is possible.

College preparedness is important for students individually and for the nation as a whole. High school students that take AP courses are more likely to pursue degrees in engineering, life science and physical science, fields recognized for contributing to America’s prosperity. That prosperity has been in danger in recent years, in part to our nation trailing other countries in academic rigor.

Designing Courses

The College Board notes that college faculty play an integral role in helping to design and update AP courses. It says that such assistance ensures that AP courses parallel entry-level college courses, enabling students to learn and provide widespread acceptance amongst academics.


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Categories: Campus News