This report reviews literature on Advanced Placement (AP) to answer several questions about student outcomes related to taking AP classes. It finds that research is inconclusive about the effect of AP course offerings on students and schools. Research has found that students who take AP courses and pass AP exams are more successful in college than those who did not take AP courses, but this report cautions that the research is correlational, not causal. The report states that colleges treat AP coursework differently in their admissions processes and colleges treat AP exam scores differently in terms of offering college credit, so there is no obvious benefit to taking AP in terms of getting into college or finishing faster. The report also states that AP courses vary in quality and AP needs to be part of a broader initiative to prepare students for college-level work; by itself, it has not been shown to improve student outcomes. Finally, the report provides recommendations for students and educators considering AP courses.
The Advanced Placement Program: Living Up To Its Promise?