College Board Changes in AP Classes

College Board is preparing several new AP classes, including Pre-Calculus for the 2023-24 academic year, and African-American Studies for the following year. The Pre-Calculus AP class is designed to replace standard pre-calc classes in schools, rather than serving as an additional, Honors-like program. Other new AP classes in development include Anatomy & Physiology and Business Principles (an AP course focused on economics and entrepreneurship).

The development of digital options for AP classes is also picking up pace. For the 2023 AP testing season, the following tests will be available digitally: English Literature & Composition, English Language & Composition, U.S. History, World History, European History, Computer Science Principles, and Seminar. These digital tests are the same length and format as the pencil-and-paper tests. College Board hopes to eventually make all AP tests available digitally, but some are particularly challenging to adapt to a digital format, such as math-based tests that require complicated equations in answers.

Additionally, College Board is now recommending that colleges only consider the scores of up to 5 AP courses for admissions decisions. They suggest that further AP scores may be used for college credit, but not for acceptance. College Board CEO David Coleman’s call to “stop the madness” harkened to recent years’ discussions among admissions folk who struggled with issues of AP classes offerings and equity. All too often with AP scores, more has been considered better. This can be a disadvantage for students whose schools lack funding to offer AP programs, and it pressures other students to deal with extreme workloads if their school offers many AP classes. Coleman called on admissions offices to limit their considerations to 5 scores, citing a recent study that shows students see diminishing returns of academic improvement after 5 AP programs.

For colleges that heavily rely on AP classes as indicators of academic success, particularly for Honors colleges and similarly rigorous institutions, the limit on AP score considerations would likely mean these colleges will place more importance on particular AP scores. For example, a score from the upcoming AP Pre-Calculus exam may carry less weight in their admission decisions than a score from the more advanced AP Calculus BC exam would. The call to limit AP score considerations is a recommendation, not an official standard, however. College Board cannot reinforce this limitation, so we will wait and see whether college admissions officials decide to heed the advice.

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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