Why AP Must Be Easier This Year
We need to make it easier than ever to tackle an Advanced Placement course.
Many students and teachers face dizzying academic schedules this fall: in-person school on some days, but not on others; some students online and others in person; the prospect of switching to online or in-person as the public health situation changes.
Advanced Placement classes are challenging even in a normal academic year. That’s why we’re rolling out resources to support students even under these tough circumstances. We can’t make the classes lighter or the exams less rigorous, but we can make it easier to learn and stay on track for college. This year, for the first time ever, if you’re an AP student who misses a day of class, if you’re out when a particular topic is covered, if you fall behind, or if a particular topic is simply not making sense, you’ll be able to get help anytime, anywhere.
More than 300 of the world’s best AP teachers are producing short videos—averaging just 10 minutes long—that cover every topic in more than 30 AP courses. Called AP Daily, these lessons from highly experienced teachers will be freely available to everyone. Every AP teacher in the world now has a backup band of a half-dozen other AP teachers, ready to fill in gaps and offer flexible learning options for every student.
We’re also offering practice questions to go along with every lesson, giving each AP student personalized feedback so they stay on track to earn college credit. Each student will get a clear sense of the material they’ve mastered and where they should focus further attention.
Given all the other demands on their time this year, we would never expect every AP teacher to recreate all of their own lessons online. Instead, AP teachers will have the option of assigning AP Daily videos as homework so they can spend more time working with their students.
Free, high-quality content can spare AP teachers the pressure of racing through topics during limited class time, leaving them more opportunity for the deep conversations and critical analyses that are key to a great AP experience. Years of research point to the student-teacher relationship as a core component of successful learning, and AP Daily should make that easier than ever—whether it’s online, in-person, or both.
We first explored shared video lessons last spring, when schools closed for the semester. Teachers and students around the globe, from Bolivia to Burkina Faso, logged in for daily lessons, or went back to review material they needed to cover again. They even heard from guest stars like Nate Silver for AP Statistics, Janet Yellen for AP Economics, and Lin-Manuel Miranda for AP U.S. History.
This year, we’re expanding our roster of guest teachers. AP Daily videos will feature lessons from hundreds of professors from the nation’s top colleges and universities, from Harvard to UCLA to the U.S. Naval Academy.
All of this gives teachers and students the flexibility to move at their own pace, reimagine the way they use classroom time, and make the most of the online connections that will be a fact of life this year. It’s our way of making AP work without sacrificing what makes AP worthwhile.
Students will still get the depth and rigor AP is known for, but with the flexibility and support this unusual year demands.
For more than six decades, the AP community has worked together to meet the needs of students. The disruptions we’re all facing now are significant, but that doesn’t change the fundamental commitment of AP teachers to rigorous learning and meaningful connections with students. Even in this difficult year, students deserve the opportunity to learn alongside a talented teacher, demonstrate their knowledge, and earn college credit.
Trevor Packer, head of our Advanced Placement® Program, is responsible for the ongoing development and management of 38 AP courses taken each year by 2.5 million students in subjects ranging from Biology and Calculus to Studio Art and World History. He also leads the Instruction division at the College Board, which includes programs such as SpringBoard and CLEP.