Any course that a school labels “AP” must receive authorization through a process called the AP Course Audit, which confirms teacher awareness of course scope and occasional exam changes, and ensures that confidential practice exams and other resources are only accessible to real AP teachers verified by a school administrator.
Once an AP course is authorized, the teacher will have access to confidential practice exams and other resources (formative assessments; the AP Question Bank) that are reserved for AP teacher usage.
And the course will be included in the AP Course Ledger—the official list of all AP courses—so colleges and universities can verify what they see on student transcripts.
Each individual school may develop its own curriculum for courses labeled “AP.” The AP Program does not mandate a specific curriculum for AP courses to follow. Instead, the official Course and Exam Description provides a scope and sequence for new AP teachers to utilize, modify, and adapt, rather than having to build from scratch. We also provide several sample syllabi that teachers can submit to confirm their awareness of course scope. Or teachers can develop an original syllabus or submit a colleague’s already-approved one.
New for 2020-21:
New teachers will now have four options to demonstrate awareness of the course scope and receive AP course authorization:
- adopt a sample syllabus
- adopt the AP Unit Guides in the AP Course and Exam Description
- claim identical to a colleague’s approved syllabus
- submit their own course syllabus for review.
As usual, teachers and a school administrator will also need to complete and submit the short AP Course Audit Form to confirm awareness of the core requirements for offering a specific AP subject.
What does it mean to “adopt” the AP Unit Guides or a pre-approved syllabus? This simply means that the teacher has reviewed the material, is aware of the content and skills colleges expected to see in any course labeled “AP,” and will use the document as the starting point for their own course plan, adapting and modifying it over time as the teacher determines what will best enable his/her students to develop the knowledge and skills required for college credit and placement.
Exception: AP Art and Design, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Seminar, and AP Research. These subjects do not have AP Unit Guides, so new teachers must adopt a sample syllabus, or a colleague’s already-approved syllabus, or submit their own original course syllabus for review.
Previously authorized courses can simply be renewed by an AP Course Audit administrator. As before, when a subject has significant course and/or exam changes, teachers will be instructed to submit a new Course Audit Form and complete one of the four options above to demonstrate awareness of the changes.
Teachers should make sure to consult their course’s individual pages for specific instructions for the 2020-21 school year.
For Higher Education Professionals
Learn more about how the AP Course Audit assures AP courses on applicants’ transcripts meet rigorous standards. And explore the AP Course Ledger, a complete list of all authorized AP courses at high schools and online providers everywhere. Go to the AP Course Audit page on our Higher Education site.
See All Authorized AP Courses
The AP Course Ledger is the official, up-to-date, comprehensive list of courses that have passed the AP Course Audit. It’s searchable by school, subject, city, state, country, and more, and it’s updated every year in November to reflect offerings in the current school year.