What are AP Through-Course Assessments?

Students enrolled in AP courses face an end-of-course assessment, testing students’ cumulative knowledge in a specific AP subject area. AP scores, however, are not only dependent on how well you do on your final AP exam. In some cases, they also consist of through-course assessments.

If you are enrolled in an AP course, it’s important to understand all of the elements that will make up your AP score. So what are AP through-course assessments? Keep reading to learn more, including two examples from AP Seminar.

The basics of AP through-course assessments

Through-course assessments are tasks that students complete during the year (as opposed to an end-of-year exam) and that factor into your final AP score. Aside from using these assessments to calculate your final score in the course, instructors use them to determine whether you and your classmates are adequately meeting learning targets so you will be well prepared to take the AP exam at the end of the year.

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AP through-course assessment example #1: team projects in AP Seminar

In AP Seminar, one through-course task—the team project—makes up 20 percent of a student’s final grade. Teams of three to five students select a research question and incorporate relevant concepts into two assignments:

  • Individual research report

Students use this opportunity to delve deeper into a particular aspect of their research question. They then use their findings to compose their individual research report, which is 1,200 words in length. The report should explain how the selected topic relates to the overall research question, as well as analyze, evaluate, and properly cite all sources.

  • Team multimedia presentation and defense

Teams compile all of the research gathered by their members in their individual reports and develop one or more proposed solutions to the research question. Teams analyze each student’s individual research to draw conclusions about possible solutions, conduct any further research needed to properly establish a solution, and craft an argument to support their findings.

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AP through-course assessment example #2: individual projects in AP Seminar

The individual portion of AP Seminar’s through-course assessments accounts for 35 percent of a student’s final grade. When developing your individual project, you will include the following tasks:

  • Individual written argument

The College Board presents students with a selection of relevant issues and prompts students to choose one to investigate further. Once a topic is identified, students must develop a research question, conduct extensive research and analysis, and sculpt a well-defined argument. This written argument must be 2,000 words in length and utilize a minimum of one source provided by the College Board.

  • Individual multimedia presentation

This portion of the individual project must be six to eight minutes in length and explain their research question conclusion. Students present evidence to support their argument and should illustrate how their findings relate to the overall context of the topic. Students present this project to their peers and instructor.

  • Oral defense

Once students have completed their multimedia presentation, their instructor will ask two questions that students must answer in order to defend their stance on the issue. Students may also face follow-up questions in order to further defend their answers. Questions regarding research reflection may relate to evidence students chose not to use, strategies chosen to gather research, and how the research question changed over time. Questions relating to extending argumentation will prompt students to discuss the real world effect their findings may have, how certain they are about their drawn conclusion, and any additional questions they found themselves addressing during research. Teachers may ask questions from the provided College Board list or utilize their own that relate to the student’s specific topic.

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How do AP through-course assessments apply to you?

When taking certain AP courses, it’s important to remember that it’s not just the final exam that you must prepare for. You must also be ready to complete through-course assessments and other assignments during the year that test a variety of skills. The purpose of these tasks is to set you up for ultimate success in your AP class and college.

While AP seminar courses offer through-course assessments, not all courses do. It’s important to note that through-course assessments vary by AP course. Be sure to research your particular course in order to see if it incorporates through-course assessments and what those may entail.  

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