NEW YORK — The College Board is pleased to announce revisions to two of the largest Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) courses — AP U.S. History and AP Physics B. These changes will impact more than 18,000 educators and 500,000 students in more than 12,000 schools worldwide. Teachers will implement the redesigned courses fall 2014, and the redesigned exams will be administered spring 2015.
While AP courses will continue to require mastery of course content typically taught in college classes, “the redesigned AP history and science courses eliminate the pressure on teachers and students to rush through course topics,” said Trevor Packer, the College Board senior vice president who leads the Advanced Placement Program. “The great achievement of this redesign is a strong agreement among colleges and universities regarding the knowledge and skills students need to cultivate in order to qualify for credit and placement. This agreement has enabled the AP Program to reduce the amount of content coverage required in AP courses, such that teachers and students will be able to relish the exploration of key concepts in greater depth.”
In history courses, this additional time will enable teachers and students to focus on the close reading and analysis of primary and secondary source material, and the development of the skills practiced by historians, such as argumentation and periodization. In physics courses, the additional time will be dedicated to the hands-on practice of the scientific method, as students design and conduct experiments and collect data to test their hypotheses and deepen their understanding.
U.S. History: 425,000+ students in 12,000+ schools
Three overarching objectives have been the focus of the redesign of the AP U.S. History course and exam:
Objective 1: Align with the evolving U.S. history curriculum at the nation’s top colleges and universities. In recent years, most college and university American history survey courses have begun to include key concepts and themes from two periods of American history that have not to date been a significant part of the AP U.S. History course: 1491–1607 and 1980–present. The redesigned AP U.S. History course addresses the nine periods in American history that now typically serve as the focus of the college U.S. history survey, including 1491–1607 and 1980–present.
Objective 2: Provide teachers and students with flexibility to focus on specific historical topics, events and issues in greater depth. In each of the nine historical periods that compose the AP U.S. History course, students are responsible for developing a rich understanding of clearly delineated “key concepts,” within which the teacher is responsible for choosing specific topics and examples for in-depth focus as illustrations of each key concept. The exam questions are written in a way that allows students to write their responses using the historical examples that were taught in their respective course, or to apply the examples they learned to analogous events. This relieves the pressure on teachers to cover all possible events and details, and frees them to engage students more deeply in exploring, understanding and interpreting major historical events.
Objective 3: Increase student practice of the historical thinking skills valued by colleges and universities as central to understanding history. The increased flexibility of the redesigned course will provide teachers with time to help students use the knowledge they gain to practice the work of a historian. Rather than simply moving rapidly from topic to topic, AP U.S. History students will regularly engage in sustained, close reading of historical source material and the development of written arguments solidly grounded in such evidence.
The new AP U.S. History Curriculum Framework provides teachers with full information regarding the nine periods, the key concepts, and the historical thinking skills that comprise the core of the redesigned AP U.S. History course.
The number of AP U.S. History Exam multiple-choice questions has decreased from 80 to 36. The exam questions will now ask students to use their content knowledge to analyze and interpret primary and secondary sources. The main section of the exam, the free-response section, will now feature short-answer, document-based and essay questions that ask students to demonstrate content knowledge and historical thinking skills through written responses.
For more information on the changes made to the AP U.S. History course and exam, please click here.
AP Physics B replaced with AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2: 80,000+ students in 5,000+ schools
Guided by National Research Council and National Science Foundation recommendations, the AP Program has spent several years collaborating with master AP teachers and eminent educators from colleges and universities to evaluate and revise the AP Physics B course. This collaboration has led to a decision to replace AP Physics B with two new courses, AP Physics 1: Algebra-based and AP Physics 2: Algebra-based.
An in-depth study by the National Research Council (NRC) concluded that AP Physics B is a very broad course that “encourages cursory treatment of very important topics in physics” rather than cultivating a deeper understanding of key foundational principles and content. The NRC further concluded that students should develop a strong foundation in Newtonian mechanics, including rotational dynamics and angular momentum, topics not covered in AP Physics B. They also emphasized the need for inquiry-based instruction and in-depth exploration of topics.
To achieve these important goals, and the much-needed time for teachers to accomplish them, the NRC recommended that the course material be spread over two years. After confirming this recommendation through college curriculum studies, higher education validations, state standards reviews, and AP instructional timing trials conducted by AP teachers, the AP Program is replacing AP Physics B with two separate full-year courses. The new courses align strongly with college and university expectations and will benefit students and teachers.
- AP Physics 1: Algebra-based is the equivalent to a first-semester college course in algebra-based physics, but it is designed to be taught over a full academic year so that AP teachers and students will have time to develop and retain a thorough understanding of the content and to focus on applying their knowledge through inquiry-based labs. The full year also allows time to include physics content specified by individual state standards. The course covers Newtonian mechanics (including rotational dynamics and angular momentum); work, energy, and power; and mechanical waves and sound. It will also introduce electric circuits.
- AP Physics 2: Algebra-based is the equivalent to a second-semester college course in algebra-based physics, but it is designed to be taught over a full academic year so that AP teachers and students will have time to develop and retain a thorough understanding of the content and to focus on applying their knowledge through inquiry-based labs. The full year also allows time to include physics content specified by individual state standards. The course covers fluid mechanics; thermodynamics; electricity and magnetism; optics; and atomic and nuclear physics.
The labs will foster student engagement in the practices of science and encourage students to experiment, analyze, make conjectures and arguments, and solve problems in a collaborative setting. The new courses will devote 25 percent of classroom time to laboratory investigations, up from 20 percent in AP Physics B.
AP Physics 1 and 2 will feature newly designed exams that reduce the number of multiple-choice questions, allowing students more time to apply reasoning skills. Each exam will have fewer free-response questions, giving students time to reason and write qualitative and quantitative explanations to justify their answers. In addition, the exams will now contain an experimental-design question that asks students to demonstrate their ability to practice science.
For more information on the changes made to the AP Physics B course and exam, please click here.
The redesigns of AP U.S. History and AP Physics B are the latest in a series of AP course revisions that began implementation fall 2011, each focused on achieving an ideal balance between the breadth of required content and depth of understanding.
- Fall 2011: AP French Language and Culture, AP German Language and Culture
- Fall 2012: AP Biology, AP Latin, AP Spanish Literature and Culture
- Fall 2013: AP Chemistry, AP Spanish Language and Culture
- Fall 2014: AP U.S. History, AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2
Additional details about changes to AP courses and exams can be found at http://advancesinap.collegeboard.org/. This website also offers educators information on resources and professional development opportunities designed to support teachers in implementing course revisions.
About the Advanced Placement Program®
The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies — with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both — while still in high school. Through AP courses in 34 subjects, each culminating in a rigorous exam, students learn to think critically, construct solid arguments and see many sides of an issue — skills that prepare them for college and beyond. Taking AP courses demonstrates to college admission officers that students have sought the most rigorous curriculum available to them, and research indicates that students who score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam typically experience greater academic success in college and are more likely to earn a college degree than non-AP students. Each AP teacher’s syllabus is evaluated and approved by faculty from some of the nation’s leading colleges and universities, and AP Exams are developed and scored by college faculty and experienced AP teachers. Most four-year colleges and universities in the United States grant credit, advanced placement or both on the basis of successful AP Exam scores — more than 3,600 institutions worldwide annually receive AP scores. In the last decade, participation in the AP Program has more than doubled and graduates succeeding on AP Exams have nearly doubled. In May 2012, 2.1 million students representing more than 18,000 schools around the world, both public and nonpublic, took 3.7 million AP Exams.
About the College Board
The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools. For further information, visit www.collegeboard.org.
Deborah Davis The College Board 212-713-8052 email@example.com