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2020-21 AP Updates
AP Capstone presentations can be delivered in a remote, hybrid, or in-person setting. Learn more.

Important Updates

Coming Later This Fall: AP Daily Video Lessons
Teachers and students will be able to access short, on-demand AP Daily video lessons in AP Classroom. They can be assigned as homework along with practice questions. This lets teachers use class time for focused discussions and connecting with their students, regardless of their learning environment.

Updated Course and Exam Description for 2020-21
Download the new course and exam description that will be effective starting with the 2020-21 school year.

Student Digital Activation with AP Classroom
AP Classroom is the assessment registration platform for students; they’ll need to complete a simple, five-minute digital activation at the beginning of the school year in order to submit an academic paper.

Sign In to AP Classroom

Course Overview

AP Research, the second course in the AP Capstone experience, allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, issue, or idea of individual interest. Students design, plan, and implement a yearlong investigation to address a research question. Through this inquiry, they further the skills they acquired in the AP Seminar course by learning research methodology, employing ethical research practices, and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information. Students reflect on their skill development, document their processes, and curate the artifacts of their scholarly work through a process and reflection portfolio. The course culminates in an academic paper of 4,000–5,000 words (accompanied by a performance, exhibit, or product where applicable) and a presentation with an oral defense.

Course Content

Based on the Understanding by Design (Wiggins and McTighe) model, the curriculum framework is intended to provide a clear and detailed description of the course requirements necessary for student success. This conceptualization will guide the development and organization of learning outcomes from general to specific, resulting in focused statements about content knowledge and skills needed for success in the course.

The AP Research curriculum is made up of five big ideas. As always, you have the flexibility to organize the course content as you like.

  • Big Idea 1: Question and Explore
  • Big Idea 2: Understand and Analyze 
  • Big Idea 3: Evaluate Multiple Perspectives
  • Big Idea 4: Synthesize Ideas
  • Big Idea 5: Team, Transform, and Transmit

Skill Categories

The AP Research framework included in the course and exam description outlines distinct skills, called transferrable skills and proficiencies, that students should practice throughout the year.

Skill Proficiencies

Produce Scholarly Work

Establish Argument

Demonstrating the significance of one’s research by explaining the rationale behind the choices made in the research process and logically connecting the findings to one’s conclusions or new understandings

Select and Use Evidence

Evaluating the significance of the findings, results, or product to the purpose or goal of one’s inquiry and strategically choosing such evidence to effectively support claims

Employ Research Practices

Research Design

Narrowing a focus of inquiry and identifying an aligned, ethical, feasible approach or method to accomplish the purpose of the research question and/or project goal

Analyze Sources and Evidence

Understand and Analyze Argument

Analyzing evidence for what is known about one’s topic of inquiry to further focus and situate one’s research question or project goal

Evaluate Sources and Evidence

Evaluating the credibility, relevance, and significance of sources and evidence to the choices made in the inquiry process

Understand Context and Perspective

Understand and Analyze Context

Contextualizing the purpose and significance of one’s topic of inquiry within a broader field or discipline

Communicate (interpersonal and intrapersonal)

Engage Audience

Choosing and employing effective written and oral communication techniques, considering audience, context, and purpose to convey and defend conclusions or new understandings

Apply Conventions

Choosing and consistently applying an appropriate citation style and effective conventions of writing


Working constructively with others to accomplish a team goal or task


Identifying challenges, successes, and moments of insight throughout one’s inquiry, which transformed one’s own thinking and reasoning

AP and Higher Education

Higher education professionals play a key role developing AP courses and exams, setting credit and placement policies, and scoring student work. The AP Higher Education site features information on recruitment and admission, advising and placement, and more.

Meet the Development Committee for AP Research.