AP courses and exams are designed by committees made up of college faculty and experienced AP teachers who ensure that the course and exam reflect college-level expectations.
An important part of developing a new AP course is creating the course framework, which defines what students must know and be able to do to earn college credit or placement. These expectations, known as disciplinary practices and learning objectives, have been validated by department chairs and college faculty representing a range of colleges and universities. Each AP subject has its own test development committee responsible for ensuring that the exam questions are aligned to the college-level expectations outlined in the course framework.
- Determine the general content and ability level of each exam.
- Determine requirements for course syllabi.
- Write and review course and exam descriptions.
- Write and review exam questions.
In addition, committee members guide and review the research and data analyses undertaken to ensure that AP courses and exams adhere to high academic standards for proficiency and excellence.
Courses typically undergo a two- to six-year development process before they are implemented in classrooms. They are regularly reviewed thereafter.
We develop AP courses and their exams in parallel. When we design course frameworks, we employ the backward planning model of Understanding by Design®, while for exam design we use evidence-centered design. Both processes begin with the end in mind; together, they articulate what students should understand, know, and be able to do by the end of their AP experience.
Claims about students' knowledge, skills, and abilities, along with descriptions of the evidence required to support those claims, are expressed in the disciplinary practices and the learning objectives for the course. These become the targets of measurement for the exam.