New Advanced Placement (AP) Tests on the Horizon from College Board

Mention AP World to any tenth grader across the nation and you’ll see them shudder.  Just the thought of that thousand page textbook that they must memorize in the course of less than 9 months is enough to terrify any teen.  Help is on its way in the form of a new A.P. test.  Yes, the College Board (you know them because they’re the ones who also administer the SAT) has decided in its infinite wisdom to improve the Advanced Placement tests so AP courses will slash the amount of material students must learn as well as provide a framework for the courses.

In the January 9, 2011  New York Times Education Life section, the intricacies of the new AP tests are laid out.

“A sweeping redesign of Advanced Placement aims to take the rote out.  In biology, that means half the multiple choice questions,” (NY Times).

With over 1.8 million students taking 3.2 million AP tests, this will affect millions of future college applicants.

AP Science and history courses will be impacted the most.  They’ll also get the newer test sooner.

In 2012 there will be new tests in AP French, German and World History.

2013 will bring new tests in AP Bio, US History, Latin, and Spanish Lit.

2014 will offer new AP tests in European History and Physics.

2015 will advance new AP tests in Chemistry, Art History and a revision of the other new AP World History test (just in case they didn’t get it right in 2012).

While some may be enthralled with the new test, one Los Angeles teen told me that he thinks the new AP will make it easier as they are eliminating the guessing penalty.  Of course all of these new tests means there will be new curriculum for teachers to learn and then to teach the students.  The hope is that students will memorize less and be able to think for themselves more.  That alone is always a worthy goal.

Juliet Giglio

Educational Consultant

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

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  1. I have heard some about this and thankyou for exploring the nature of some of the changes in this article. I like what was said by the student you mention who sees these as changes that will broaden access and benefit associated with the A.P. program. What I wonder is if there is any fear of colleges seeing these changes as a lessening of standards and consequently refusing or limiting the practice of awarding college credits for high scores on the A.P. test. I can imagine that the College Board has been proactive in working to develop the test revisions closely with university administrators and will no doubt have a sound P.R. effort to deter this responce but I haven’t read much on this side of the whole plan and was curious if anyone else has learned anything that would speak to such issues. (Sory I was in a rush and did not get to spell check this)

  2. Hi, Ralph. I’m not sure how colleges will handle the credit issue. But two things are certain.
    First, colleges will balance their desire to lure students into their colleges with the offer of “free” credits with their economic interest in not providing too many “free” credits. College like the AP’s rigor, but they aren’t going to give a way free diplomas.
    Second, the more selective the school, the less likely students will receive “credit” for the AP exams. They may fulfill prerequisites or be placed in different sections of a course. But highly selective schools generally award less credit for APs than their less-selective peers. Why is that? Because they don’t need to….
    Thank for taking the time to write in!

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