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Building Your AP Program

Building Your AP Program Color Pencils


If you’re thinking about starting, growing, or making adjustments to your AP program, you’ve come to the right place!

Half of students entering four-year colleges are now starting college with some credit from AP. To ensure your students are set up for success, consider the following:

  • Which AP courses can we offer to provide students who may not traditionally take advanced coursework with the opportunity to experience AP and promote college and career readiness? (For example: AP Seminar or AP Human Geography.)
  • Can we encourage more students to take the AP courses our school currently offers?
  • Have we reviewed our school’s AP Potential Report* to determine how we can expand AP access to students who show potential to succeed?
  • How do we gauge student interest in the AP courses our school doesn’t yet offer?

*AP Potential Reports are available to schools that participate in the SAT suite of assessments, including the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9.



Help your students select AP courses with these resources:


Early Access to AP

Support your college readiness goals by offering AP courses earlier, and prepare your students for success in those courses by offering Pre-AP.

Ensuring students have early exposure to advanced learning is critical. Popular AP courses for early high school are:

Grade Level

Most Popular Courses

Grade 9
Grade 10

Additionally, making sure students are prepared for success in these courses is important.

In Pre-AP, 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 instructional practices and routines that help them develop the important critical thinking skills needed to succeed in AP.

Pre-AP courses are directly back-mapped from specific AP courses and often include strong connections to multiple AP courses.

Pre-AP Course

AP Course Connections

Pre-AP English 1 & 2

AP Seminar

AP English Language and Composition

AP English Literature and Composition

Pre-AP World History & Geography

AP United States History

AP World History: Modern

AP European History

AP Human Geography

Pre-AP Biology

AP Environmental Science

AP Biology

Pre-AP Chemistry

AP Environmental Science

AP Chemistry

Pre-AP Algebra 1

AP Statistics

AP Computer Science Principles

AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC

Pre-AP Geometry with Statistics

AP Statistics

AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC

Pre-AP Algebra 2

AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based

AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based

AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC

AP Statistics

Pre-AP Visual Arts

AP Drawing

AP 2-D Art and Design

AP 3-D Art and Design


AP Course Pairings

Does your school offer the next course in a sequence of courses or the full pair of companion courses? Whether you’re thinking about teaching or learning, these courses go well together. Note: Additional professional learning may be needed for teachers to move across disciplines.

AP Biology pairs with AP Environmental Science

AP Biology pairs with AP Psychology

AP English Language and Composition* pairs with AP English Literature and Composition*

AP U.S. Government and Politics pairs with AP Macroeconomics

AP English Language and Composition pairs with AP United States History

AP Human Geography pairs with AP Environmental Science

AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based pairs with AP Calculus AB

AP Research pairs with AP Statistics

AP Art History pairs with AP World History: Modern

AP Seminar (grade 10 or 11) pairs with AP Research (grade 11 or 12)

AP Seminar (grade 10) pairs with AP English Language and Composition (grade 11), then AP Research (grade 12)

* Please note that colleges typically will only grant credit for one of the two AP English courses.


Project Based AP Courses

Project based learning can help develop the inquiry skills to take on real-world challenges and prepare your students for the future. Did you know these AP courses lend themselves to a project based learning model of instruction?

In addition, these AP courses use projects and performance tasks as part of a student’s final AP Exam score:

  • AP Seminar and AP Research. These interdisciplinary courses are part of the AP Capstone Diploma™ Program and focus on developing students’ skills in research, analysis, collaboration, writing, and presentation.
  • AP Computer Science Principles. Whether students want to pursue a career in computer science, medicine, fashion, or engineering, this AP course can help them prepare and learn how to build real-world solutions. No prior coding knowledge is needed for this course.
  • AP Art and Design Courses. In an AP Art and Design course, students develop the skills that artists and designers use, and create a portfolio of work that is assessed to produce their AP score.

Please note: this instructional model is a personal choice and not a curricular requirement.

Powerful new research examining AP Environmental Science and AP U.S. Government and Politics shows that project based learning can significantly improve performance on the AP Exam. Connect with a community of AP teachers who are bringing AP Project Based Learning to their classrooms for these courses through the AP Project Based Learning Series.

Project Based Learning Robotics



Most Popular AP Courses

School scheduling is as much an art as it is a science. There’s no perfect schedule for all schools, but there are some popular courses that schools like to offer. It’s not recommended for students to take all of these courses in a single year. This list is a suggestion of courses to choose from.

Most Participation

Most Popular By Grade


Career Connections to AP

AP Career Connections Graduates


AP supports career exploration and readiness.

Use the Advanced Placement and Career and Technical Education: Working Together resource to map career clusters to AP courses.

Encourage your students to read this blog post and use the Connect AP to Majors and Careers tool.

AP courses with strong ties to majors and careers in high demand:

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