Maximizing AP Potential

AP Potential™ is a free, online tool that helps schools identify students who are ready for particular AP courses based on their performance on the PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, or SAT. Learn various ways to incorporate AP Potential into your course planning to help more students choose the right courses. 

The AP Program encourages schools to use a variety of factors when registering students for AP courses, including student motivation, interest, and preparedness, in addition to teacher recommendations and grades. 

Automatic Enrollment into AP 

Use performance data from the SAT and PSAT-related tests to make the selection for which students are ready for which AP classes.  

WHY: To expand and diversify the student population taking AP by opening access to advanced coursework to students who otherwise may not have tried it–reach the students who don’t think they are "good enough" or "smart enough" for AP. 


  • Automatically enroll students in AP classes by utilizing AP Potential suggestions.  

  • Believe that students will live up to expectations! Make academic acceleration a part of regular conversation at school board meetings, in other administrative gatherings, and at family/community events to help create a new culture of high expectations. 

  • Back up your commitment to academic acceleration by funding AP Exams, PSAT/NMSQT, and SAT. 

  • Ensure parents are consulted if students prefer to opt out of these opportunities. 

CREATED BY: Federal Way School District (Federal Way, Wash.) 


“We believe all students can achieve at very high academic levels. The traditional system is designed to select and sort. And the students who are sorted out are the students of color, the underrepresented, and the underserved kids. We don’t just encourage them to apply to college; we’ve removed the institutional and social barriers to change their academic trajectory. By removing these barriers, we’ve given our students access to opportunity, and they have responded beyond our wildest expectations.” — Rob Neu, Superintendent 

Identifying Students Using AP Potential 

Inform all students who have the potential to succeed in AP by leveraging the AP Potential tool to provide personalized communication.  

WHY: To more easily discover and encourage students who have the ability to succeed in AP, instead of only using teacher recommendations or other traditional measures of readiness.  


  • Use the template letters included with the AP Potential tool to generate personal letters and mail merge with their student rosters.  

  • Send letters home to parents congratulating their children for being identified as having AP potential. Include which courses the student should consider and ensure the message has a celebratory tone: “Congratulations! We are very happy to share with you that your teen has been identified as a potential candidate for the AP program!” 

  • Include information on how to connect with counselors and AP teachers to arrange follow-up meetings to discuss the students' AP potential in more detail. 

CREATED BY: Delaware Valley High School (Milford, Pa.) 


“Prior to the use of AP Potential, AP enrollment was based solely on teacher recommendations, which was not always the best way to easily identify the students who had the capacity for AP. Now using AP Potential and SpringBoard, the model shows that it’s working.” — Jay Tucker, Head of Guidance 

AP Potential Info Night  

Create expanding access programs, such as Pushing Underrepresented Students Higher (PUSH), that build confidence in students who may otherwise not think they can handle AP. And get them excited about these opportunities with an invite-only informational night.  

WHY: To identify students not taking AP courses and provide direct encouragement for underrepresented students. 


  • Create your invitation list by using a combination of AP Potential information and the first-semester grades of students not taking AP. Determine the appropriate number of students to invite depending on what the data reveals.  

  • Host sessions for these students and their families to demystify the AP experience and focus on the benefits of taking more college-level coursework.  

CREATED BY: Riverwood International Charter School (Sandy Springs, Ga.) 


“We are a diverse school, and it is our goal to see that diversity across all of our classrooms. All of our students are encouraged to sign up for AP classes, so when they don’t, the challenge becomes getting past whatever barrier that is stopping them.” — Lenora Patterson, Curriculum Assistant Principal 

Supporting Resources  

  • AP Potential: Learn more about this free, web-based educator tool and how AP Potential can benefit your school. 

  • Insights into AP Potential: Use this overview brochure to share how to start using AP Potential. 

  • Impacts of AP: Learn how AP courses and exams have a broader impact beyond college credit.