Supplemental Supports for AP Students

Providing additional support to AP students beyond the classroom can be key to helping them build confidence so that they can be successful in AP.

Boot Camp for First-Time AP Students

Develop a short summer program that focuses on developing five skills useful for all advanced coursework instead of focusing on specific AP course content.  

WHY: To develop students’ essential skills through experiential learning activities to give them a solid foundation to be successful in AP. 


  • Hold a short, intensive program when the majority of these students can attend. (This school did it the first 4 days of the school year.) 

  • Have faculty and/or former students act as boot camp instructors to supervise “platoons” of students and guide them through the different hands-on learning activities, which are set up to complete as teams. Each activity is scored so there’s an element of healthy competition. 

  • Focus all activities on developing 5 essential skills: teamwork, communication, organization, reading, and problem-solving. 

CREATED BY: San Pasqual High School (Escondido, Calif.)                     


Open access in AP is great as long as there is something in place to make sure the kids are ready, and that their skills are up to speed. You don’t want to knock out those kids who are trying for the first time, and then they drop out and tell their friends that AP is too hard.” — Jacob Clifford, AP Economics Teacher 


Summer Prep Course for First-Time AP Students 

Offer a summer AP prep course where AP teachers help first-time AP students get ready in advance of the school year.  

WHY: To help students taking their first AP course start off "on the right foot" so they don’t feel like they’re trying to catch up at the beginning of the school year.   


  • Get buy-in from AP teachers and students who are scheduled to take AP for the first time to come to school for a summer prep week or a few summer prep days (depending on the size of your program).  

  • Have each AP teacher available for at least 1 full day for one-on-one meetings with new AP students throughout the week where they plan and prioritize their work to tackle the increased challenge of an AP course. 

CREATED BY: Bergenfield High School (Bergenfield, N.J.)  

Advocates for AP Excellence 

Have students lead the charge to help expand diversity in their AP classrooms. Peer support systems can help build confidence in all students to participate and succeed in AP.  

WHY: To ensure the school’s AP classes match the representation in the school’s graduating class.  


  • Create a student-led group of active AP students.

  • Host outreach activities, led by this student group, to inform other students and families about AP. Examples: Host an AP shadowing week for 10th grade students and set up information tables at school events. 

  • Set up a partner system for students in class and in study groups. Have the AP student leaders coordinate with their AP teachers. 

CREATED BY: East High School (Denver, Colo.) 


“A culture change in a school does not happen in a school without hearing all voices, especially student voices.” — Kate Greeley, Assistant Principal 


Supporting Resources  

  • Outreach and Support Resources: Use these resources to help build awareness of the AP program in your school. 

  • Online Communities: Our online communities support AP coordinators and AP teachers across all AP courses. 

  • Broadening Access to AP Toolkit: Included in this toolkit is a full breakdown of how to start your own AP prep session (page 16) and a planning guide for an AP boot camp (pages 11–13).