Advanced Placement (AP) is a program in the United States and Canada created by the College Board that offers college-level courses and exams to high school students in a broad range of subjects. American colleges and universities consider AP courses in assessing a student’s qualifications for admission. In addition, they often grant course credit to students who earned high scores on exams. The AP curricula for the courses are created for the College Board by a panel of experts and college-level educators in each field of study.
The main purpose of AP courses is to enable students to prove that they’re capable of doing college work. The courses are designed to emulate the breadth and depth of a college’s introductory course, for example, American History 101. The student experiences the more rigorous standards that they’ll need to satisfy in college. This enables them to anticipate and be prepared for the next stage of their education.
The College Board is implementing changes to AP processes that will go into effect in school year 2019-2020. The new processes were designed in cooperation with AP teachers and coordinators to assure that they’re well served by them. The changes are also intended to improve a student’s ability to perform at his or her best on AP exams.
The College Board is changing the registration deadline to encourage students to start studying for exams earlier. For the current 2018-2019 school year, the registration window for all courses is open from January 1 to Friday, February 22, 2019. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, students enrolled in first-semester or yearlong AP courses must register for exams in October, while students in second-semester AP classes must register in February. The College Board piloted the new deadlines last year at 500 high schools and found that those schools saw an increase in AP exam scores and in the number of students taking AP exams.
In addition to the new registration deadlines, the College Board will also be adding new AP preparation materials and resources to their website for students and teachers to use for free. These will include online sample exams, unit guides, personal progress checks, and a performance dashboard. The new features will allow students to prepare for AP exams using materials that are well suited to their purpose because they’re the products of the exam developers themselves.
A new late order fee is intended to ensure that the great majority of exam orders are placed by the final ordering deadline. This facilitates exam registration procedures and impacts student participation and performance in a positive way. Receiving exam orders in the fall also helps the AP program by allowing the Board to determine how many expert exam reviewers will be needed to score AP exams. There will also be a new cancellation fee, which is intended to encourage students to persist in their AP courses through to the exam.
Aside from these new processes, dates, and fees, many of the most important aspects of AP programs won’t change. These include:
- Exams are administered in the first two full weeks in May
- The policies regarding the base exam fees are unchanged
- The postmark deadline for exam payments remains June 15
- Scores will be reported on the current timelines.
High school leaders and AP coordinators are free to determine their own schedule for communicating the changes that the Board is implementing. At IvySelect, we recommend that you schedule information sessions and update course catalogs regarding your school’s AP program well before the 2019-2020 course registration period.
IvySelect is a premier college admissions consulting firm for high achieving students who aspire to attend Ivy League or similarly elite institutions. We advocate a comprehensive approach to the AP program. Our general rule-of-thumb is that a student should take three or four AP classes in junior year and four or five in senior year, although this recommendation varies according to circumstances. We also advise that students be careful not to exceed their ability to produce good results. AP courses can hurt you if they bring down your GPA significantly. A prime example of the value to you of an IvySelect consultant is their expertise in guiding you on the selection of AP courses.