AP® Seminar was the fastest-growing AP course in 2023 and saw a 30% increase in student enrollment. Even with such growth, 85% of AP Seminar students earned scores of 3 or higher, the same as the previous year. Today, almost 3,000 schools offer this course. The most rapid adoption is taking place within English departments, and more than half of participating schools have designated AP Seminar as their English 10 course. This is largely because teachers can meet state English Language Arts standards while providing students with cross-curricular exposure through evidence-based reading, writing, and speaking. Students who take the course fulfill a core English course requirement and benefit from a seminar-style approach that builds skills needed to succeed in high school, college, and career. They also have a chance to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both.
Districts and schools are taking a variety of approaches to implement AP Seminar. BMC Durfee High School in Fall River, MA, and Granada Hills Charter School in Grenada Hills, CA, expanded opportunities for students to take AP Seminar as an English course and have experienced positive outcomes as a result.
BMC Durfee High School made the course equitable and flexible by allowing students to choose between taking Pre-AP® English 2 or English 10: AP Seminar their sophomore year. Over the last five years, the school increased AP Exam participation of students from low-income backgrounds by 66%, and participation of Hispanic/Latino and Black/African American students by 92%. This is a direct result of exposing more students to advanced learning and actively preparing more students for AP by having all students participate in Pre-AP or AP Seminar.
“I’m proudest when I get students who go through the process from grade level to AP and gain confidence,” says Chris DeLuca, AP Seminar teacher at BMC Durfee High School. “You see their confidence grow throughout the year.”
The school has been impacted in several ways by adopting English 10: AP Seminar. Students have a stronger set of prerequisite skills going forward in AP English Language and Composition, AP Literature and Composition, and other AP courses. And alum report finding their transition to college-level work easier because of their experience in the AP Capstone™ program. They’ve also made considerable progress toward equitable AP access in their district and increased AP Exam participation among underrepresented students.
Granada Hills Charter School made the course accessible and increased AP Seminar enrollment by embedding AP Seminar in their English sequence. Last year, they increased AP Seminar participation from 100 to 256 students by converting AP Seminar from an elective to a core English course. Out of a total of 256 students, 90% earned a score of 3 or higher on the AP Exam. This year 374 students requested enrollment in the course.
“I have two favorite aspects of teaching AP Seminar. One is the freedom and flexibility to design curriculum around meaningful topics for kids. The other is seeing the wide range of topics that students choose to investigate and really engage in,” says Spencer Wolfe, AP Seminar teacher at Granada Hills Charter School. One of the first students I taught in Seminar is currently in a PhD program, where he’s building on issues he first began exploring in Seminar and later in Research.”
Recruitment at Granada Hills happens via student word-of-mouth. The overall AP Seminar student demographics have become more in line with their overall school demographics than they used to be. Before the transition, the school had more male students enroll in the sciences than female students but had an overrepresentation of female students and underrepresentation of male students in AP English courses. Students in their AP Seminar courses were 75% female and 25% male. Last year the proportions were almost equal, with more male students choosing an AP English course.
English 10: AP Seminar is a flexible course offering, and there are no prerequisites for students. After completing English 10: AP Seminar, students are eligible to take the subsequent course, AP Research. Schools can offer AP Seminar as a single course or offer both courses as part of the AP Capstone program.