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Toronto Catholic District School Board

Advanced Placement (AP)

HIGH SCHOOL ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSES

 

Advanced Placement (AP) courses are first-year university level courses at high schools in Canada. These courses are designed for highly motivated students who want to learn about certain subjects in more depth, and who want to demonstrate to potential universities and colleges their willingness to take on academically rigorous courses. AP courses are subject to a standardised test scheme, and students can choose to write the Advanced Placement Examination, which means students may earn a university credit or advanced standing at certain universities and colleges across Canada and the United States. Different Advanced Placement courses may be offered at different high schools in Canada. Available AP courses may include calculus, English literature and composition, biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, French literature, government and politics, macroeconomics, physics, psychology, studio art and more.
 

What is the AP program?

The Advanced Placement program allows high school students to take university-level courses and show that they have mastered the material by taking AP examinations. About 65Ontario high schools have AP programs, with a further 260 across Canada, and many more in the United States and overseas. The Ontario program is growing at over 20% a year. Each school teaches a variety of AP courses and administers the annual exams. Students can receive credit, advanced placement, or both from Canadian and US colleges and universities that participate in the AP program. AP courses may exempt students from introductory university courses and allow them to move into second year core courses, or take extra minor subject classes. There are more than 25 AP subjects in the arts, languages, science, history and math (see box below). These can be integrated with the present Ontario OAC or grade 12 curriculum as credit courses, or taught as after school academic programs, as the curriculum closely matches that in Ontario where teachers already understand the academic needs of the students. Some subjects reach above and beyond the Ontario curriculum and are correspondingly demanding, so that study time and commitment increase by as much as 50% per course. Calculus and physics are examples of these; though they are certainly within the capacity of successful gifted students who already succeed in those subjects.
What does it take of the student?
The main criterion for doing an AP course is that students have the desire, motivation and ability in the chosen subject areas: being an honour roll student is not enough by itself. While we know that many bright and gifted children have the ability, the motivation may be lacking in some, particularly in gifted underachievers. So it is important for students to know their own capabilities. AP courses are a major commitment on the part of the student, who should limit part time work and will be required to put in extra reading time which would extend into summer vacations. The cost to the student is a CDN $100 fee for each exam plus the cost of materials and books.
 
Some schools provide financial assistance for families in need and AP will reduce the exam fee upon application.