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AP research

Research reveals the unknown and creates new knowledge. AP research helps one to explore academic issues and address research topics.

The College Board has introduced AP research as the second course of the AP Capstone program. It does not teach any specific subject but involves an interdisciplinary approach for the development of critical thinking, research practices, information analysis, etc along with presentation skills. Let’s check!

What is AP research?

It is a year-long course, and one has to do AP Seminar first to qualify for this. The course dwells on a variety of multiple discipline topics. Students generally select a topic that is relevant to their other AP courses. It involves exploring a research question, completion of the research project, academic paper-writing, and project presentation. It further involves the culmination of skills that students acquire in the AP Seminar and involve analyzing sources, formulating arguments, and backing them with evidence.

AP research course equivalency and prerequisites

Being an interdisciplinary course, it helps students develop critical thinking and academic research skills on a topic of their choice. It is equivalent to a college course.  Successful completion of the AP Seminar course is essential for this.

AP research course content

The course content is divided into the following 5 big ideas.

Big Idea 1: Question and Explore

In this, the students learn inquiry and investigation, the first two steps of research. They practice

  • Identification of a problem or issue and develop questions around that.
  • Collect information and organize that to answer the question
  • Evaluation of the sources of information
  • Considering a problem or issue with different angles of approaches.

Big Idea 2: Understand and Analyze

It involves learning to read, comprehend, and explain arguments or perspectives. Students practice

  • Critical reading for a purpose
  • Explain and analyze the reasons for an argument.
  • Evaluation of the evidence to support the agreement
  • Assessment of resolutions, conclusions, or solutions

Big Idea 3: Evaluate Multiple Perspectives

It covers comparing and contrasting different perspectives on a particular idea, issue, or problem to understand the complexity. And they will practice

  • Identification, comparison, and interpretation of different perspectives or arguments about an issue
  • Evaluation of objections, implications, and limitations related to different arguments or perspectives

Big Idea 4: Synthesize Ideas

Here students learn to analyze and evaluate gathered information and use them to build arguments and form conclusions. They practice

  • Formulation of arguments with good reasoning
  • Use of data and information collected from various sources to support arguments
  • Establishing Links between evidence and claims
  • Offering evidence-based conclusions, or solutions

Big Idea 5: Team, Transform, and Transmit

Students learn peer review practices and communication of ideas to an audience, and practice

  • Argument Planning, production, and presentation according to the audience, context, and purpose.
  • Communicating information via appropriate media
  • Engage an audience by use of effective techniques


AP research Assessment

The AP research assessment has three elements; academic paper, presentation, and oral defense. Students prepare an academic paper of 4000 to 5000 words. The College Board scores it. It carries 75% of the weight. The Presentation and Oral Defense take 15 to 20 minutes. Evaluators ask some questions. It carries 25% of the weight.

What a student needs to do in the academic paper?

A student needs to do the following in their AP research academic paper.

  • Introduction and contextualization of the research question, along with initial thoughts and hypothesis. It should include a brief reflection of the initial opinion.
  • Reviewing previous ideas and working to find new arguments and perspectives to lay the groundwork.
  • Explanation of the research method and the reason to follow the method. It should include the ways of compiling sources and collection of information.
  • Presentation of the findings and interpretation of their significance with the research question. It should also include arguments based on the research.
  • Discuss implications and limitations of the findings and their reflection on the process. Maybe you could not reach any fire-sure conclusion or there could also be speculations involved. Discuss them elaborately
  • Talking about the next steps based on the findings. Students should present their ideas in steps.
  • Provide a complete bibliography with correct and trustworthy sources.

Final thought

AP research is almost like a study class. It is ideal for students for their best preparations for college-level assignments. The course allows students to hone their research skills. It gives students the freedom to learn about any topic.


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