Advanced Placement® (AP)

The Advanced Placement® (AP) Program provides academic college preparatory coursework in the major subject fields. AP classes emulate introductory college courses, preparing students for selective universities and colleges.

The AP program is a challenging academic program designed to provide motivated high school students with college-level academic courses. The AP program is a cooperative educational endeavor between secondary schools and colleges and universities and is considered a standard for academic excellence in the U.S. AP provides a challenging educational program that prepares students for selective universities and colleges. AP is a rigorous program dedicated to educational excellence with a long-standing history in the United States.


“The College Board’s mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. The AP program supports the principle that each individual school must develop its’ own curriculum based on a set of expectations that colleges and secondary school faculty nationwide have established for college-level courses.” “For over 100 years, the College Board has partnered with leading educators, schools, and colleges to create innovative programs that help students, families, and educators to evaluate each student's academic strengths; challenge students to explore their interests and reach their potential; inspire students to do their best work; and pursue educational opportunities beyond high school.”


Individual teachers develop their own curriculum based on established course requirements and AP standards that must be approved by the College Board as part of the AP Course Audit process. University professors review the course syllabi for rigor and content to match college standards. AP courses are instructed over one year, and are the equivalent of a one semester college course (3 hours) and others are the equivalent of a two semester college level course (6 hours). FCPS offers a total of 39 different AP courses in all of their AP schools.

Diplomas and Recognition

Students may enroll in as many individual AP courses as they wish based on academic strengths and interests. The College Board recognizes students with exceptional performance in the Advanced Placement program as follows:

  • AP Scholar - 3 or higher on 3 exams
  • AP Scholar with Honor – Average 3.25 with a 3 on at least 4 exams
  • AP Scholar with Distinction – Average 3.5 with a 3 on at least 5 exams
  • State AP Scholar -3 or higher on the greatest number of AP Exams and then the highest average score (at least 3.5) on all AP Exams taken
  • National AP Scholar – Average of 4 on all exams with a 4 on at least 8


Students sit for an examination at the end of the AP course. AP Exam scores are a weighted combination of student scores on the multiple-choice and free-response section. The final score is on a five-point scale (1-5):

AP Exam ScoreRecommendationCollege Course Grade Equivalent
5Extremely well qualifiedA+ or A
4Very well qualifiedA-, B+, or B
3QualifiedB-, C+, or C
2Possibly qualifiedn/a
1No Recommendationn/a

All examinations are graded by a group of AP readers. Many FCPS teachers are AP readers.

Types of Assessments

Examinations include multiple choice questions and essays. Language exams include listening and speaking components. Art requires a portfolio and music includes sight-reading.

AP Capstone Diploma/AP Seminar and Research Certificate

AP Seminar and AP Research may be offered at FCPS schools. In both courses, students must complete and present a research project and write an academic paper. The two courses combined make up the AP Capstone program.

AP scores for both courses are based on teacher assessment of student presentation components and College Board scoring of student-writing components. For Seminar, there is an end of course exam scored by College Board and for Research, students submit an academic research paper to be scored by College Board. AP research students do not take an end of course AP exam.

Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP research, and on four additional AP exams of their choosing receive the AP Capstone Diploma. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP research (but not on four additional AP exams) receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate.

 AP Seminar and Research CertificateTMAP Capstone DiplomaTM
AP Seminar (Year 1)
Team Projects and Presentations
Individual Research Based-Essay and Presentation
End-of-Course Exam
AP Research (Year 2)
Academic Paper
Presentation and Oral Defense
AP Courses and Exams 4 Courses and Exams taken at any point throughout High School

More information about the AP Capstone program is available on the College Board website.

High School Curricular Transfer Request

High school curricular transfer requests may be submitted for Advanced Placement program, International Baccalaureate program, foreign language or academy course sequence.  The course of study must not be offered at the base high school.  Parents or guardians may request a transfer to the school with space available that is closest to their residence.  Parents or guardians and students must sign a Letter of Understanding for the requested program.  Requests are not permitted for individual courses or extracurricular activities.
A student who requests a transfer for the AP or IB program must commit to the advanced academic program:

  1. Each student must take a minimum of four AP or IB classes over the four years, with at least three by the end of the junior year.
  2. Each student is expected to pursue a schedule of prerequisite courses for each program in the ninth and tenth grade years.