What Is AP Seminar?
An AP course with no prerequisites, AP Seminar helps a wide range of students develop critical thinking, analytic writing, collaboration, and academic research skills on topics of the teacher’s and student’s choice.
Today, the course is offered in nearly 3,000 schools, with rapid adoption in grade 10. More than half of current AP Seminar teachers are part of their school’s English department, though this course can be offered through any academic department.
The AP Seminar Impact
AP Seminar has broad benefits.
- Engages a wide range of students: The project-based learning model makes the course more relevant for more students. A more diverse group of students take and are successful in AP Seminar than any other AP course.
- Builds relevant skills: Students build skills foundational to college and career success, including investigating topics, conducting research, and presenting. They work in teams to investigate a real-world or academic problem and present an argument for their proposed solution.
- Improves outcomes: Taking AP Seminar in grade 10 specifically sets students up for future high school success.
When compared with their peers, 10th-grade AP Seminar students on average:
- Have higher exam scores than students who take the AP Seminar Exam in grade 11.
- Earn higher scores on AP English, history, and government exams taken in grades 11 and 12.
Regardless of when they take the course, AP Seminar students are more likely to:
- Achieve higher first-year college GPAs.
- Persist in college.
And AP Seminar scores are more similar across White, Black, and Hispanic students than any other AP course.
AP Seminar allows me, as an educator, to address skills that are lacking, build upon preexisting skills, and develop and adapt lessons that pique students’ interests. AP Seminar allows teachers and students alike to expand vocabulary, build knowledge of real-world issues and perspectives, and develop empathy. It allows me flexibility as a teacher to best meet the needs of my students. This flexibility, and the discussion it elicits, has strengthened my love of teaching.
— Ashley Nisbett, AP Seminar Teacher, Port Huron Northern High School
Why Schools Are Choosing AP Seminar for English 10
Taught in the AP Seminar style, English 10: AP Seminar provides teachers with a unique instructional framework. The course helps students build a powerful foundation for critical and transferable research skills: investigation, collaboration, writing, and presentation. And students who take it fulfill a core course graduation requirement.
Schools across the country are already using AP Seminar as their English 10 offering because AP Seminar:
- Fits with current curriculum and allows for more flexibility to layer in cross-curricular content.
- Emphasizes evidence-based reading, writing, and speaking.
- Aligns with NCES English course code standards in several states. Visit the SCED Finder for more information.
Learn more about the history of AP Seminar, how the course has evolved, and promising implementation practices.
Read what teachers are doing in their classrooms at:
Many English classes are driven by content and spend the year with readings dominated by imaginative literature. AP Seminar has created a broader context for reading informational texts, but more importantly, the performance tasks have pushed students to explore the world around them for a deeper understanding of how it all works. Doing real-world investigations and offering research-based solutions has produced some critical thinkers who are motivated to do something in their community.
— James Wszolek, English Teacher (AP Seminar) and Department Co-Chair, La Porte High School
How to Incorporate AP Seminar into Your English Sequence
Explore these case studies to learn how high schools are using AP Seminar to rethink their English sequences:
- Case Study 1: Make It Equitable and Flexible, BMC Durfee High School (Mass.)
- Case Study 2: Make It a Core Course, Granada Hills Charter School (Calif.)
Understanding AP Seminar College Credit Policies
AP Seminar was created in response to college admissions leaders’ request for an AP course that would help students develop skills of collaboration, research, writing, and presentation. Because there are many other AP courses widely used for college credit—from Biology to U.S. History—admissions leaders wanted AP Seminar to focus purely on skills needed in every college major, not the content of one specific college class.
Accordingly, colleges do not typically award college credit for AP Seminar scores, and when they do, it is most often general elective credit.
Instead, AP Seminar is the ideal booster of subsequent AP scores and a powerful indicator of college readiness on a student’s transcript. Research has found that students who take AP Seminar in 10th grade achieve higher scores on AP English, history, and government exams taken in grades 11 and 12. They’re also more likely to persist in college and earn higher first year college GPAs.
Educators should view AP Seminar in 10th grade as a way to prepare many more students for success in a wide variety of 11th- and 12th-grade classes, and to stand out in college admissions.
Getting Started with English 10: AP Seminar
English 10: AP Seminar is a flexible course offering, with no prerequisites for students. After completing it, students are eligible to take the subsequent course, AP Research. To get started with English 10: AP Seminar, have a school or district leader complete the required sign-up form.
Schools that choose to offer both English 10: AP Seminar and AP Research can participate in the AP Capstone Diploma™ program. Participating in the diploma program is completely optional; schools may offer English 10: AP Seminar as a standalone course.
Students who complete both AP Seminar and AP Research—part of the AP Capstone Diploma program—can earn one of two different AP Capstone awards, which are valued by colleges across the United States and around the world.
Instructional Resources for Teachers
Teachers who are new to teaching AP Seminar as English 10 can take advantage of the following instructional resources.
Instructional Guide: Strategies to incorporate English 10 skills such as literary analysis and creative writing into the course.
Sample Syllabus A: Integrates full literary texts (Night, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Macbeth) into the course and suggests a final unit to address narrative writing standards
Sample Syllabus B: Weaves literary fiction and non-fiction texts throughout the course.
Sample Syllabus C: Connects longer works read over the summer to shorter texts (including artistic works) based on thematic links.
See the full AP Seminar Course and Exam Description.
Teachers can also find answers to key curricular and instructional questions by viewing the following YouTube videos:
- What’s AP Seminar? How does it relate to English 10?
- How can I organize my course?
- Can I still teach literary texts?
- Can I still teach a wide variety of writing types?
For even more information, listen to Season 6, Episode 3, of the Coordinated podcast.
Take Advantage of Professional Learning
New English 10: AP Seminar teachers must complete summer professional learning before their first year teaching the course.
AP Seminar professional learning opportunities tailored for teachers in English language arts departments will be hosted by select AP Summer Institutes.
Get more information about professional learning for the AP Capstone Diploma program.
Two Steps to Offer English 10: AP Seminar at Your School
1 Join Today: Both schools that are interested in offering English 10: AP Seminar and those that are also interested in offering AP Research should have a school or district leader complete the required sign-up form.
2 Register for Professional Learning: Ensure your new English 10: AP Seminar teachers are registered for required summer professional learning. Schools and/or district leaders who complete the required sign-up form will be notified when summer professional learning registration becomes available in early spring.