AP Capstone FAQ's

Frequently asked questions about AP Capstone and AP success at Columbine?

What is AP Seminar?


AP Seminar is the first course in the AP Capstone experience.  Designed by the College Board to parallel college-level courses in critical thinking and communications,  AP Seminar courses provide students with the opportunity to explore complex real world issues through cross-curricular lenses. Course topics vary and may include local, civic, or global issues and interdisciplinary subject areas. Courses typically emphasize research, communication, and critical-thinking skills to explore the issues addressed. Students may also examine source materials such as articles and other texts; speeches and personal accounts; and relevant artistic and literary works.  Ultimately, this course aims to equip students with the power to analyze and evaluate information with accuracy and precision in order to craft and communicate evidenced-based arguments.

What is AP Research?


AP Research, the second course in the AP Capstone experience, allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, issue, or idea of individual interest.  AP research is designed by the college board to replicate college level coursework by requiring students to design, plan, and implement a yearlong investigation to address a research question.  Through this inquiry, they further the skills they acquired in the AP seminar course by learning research methodology, employing ethical research practices, and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information.  Students reflect on their skill development, document their processes, and curate the artifacts of their scholarly work through a process and reflection portfolio.  The course culminates in an academic papers of 4,000 - 5,000 words and a presentation with an oral defense.

What is the cost?


AP seminar and AP research exams cost $142 each.

Other AP exams cost $94 each.

What is the savings?  

According to The College Board, the average cost of college for a single year is $21,500 for public colleges (in state tuition, fees, room/board, misc. expenses).  It is estimated that students that complete AP capstone program will save their families $8,500 and it could be much more!  

And, students who take AP courses and exams are much more likely to complete a college degree on time.* Graduating in four years represents a further and significant savings on the cost of college.

Why should students take AP courses? 

Deciding to take AP courses allows students to stand out during the college admissions process.  It allows students to earn college credit and skip introductory (core) classes at college, allowing students to immediately focus on their major in college.  Most importantly, the rigor of AP coursework allows students to build college level skills while still in high school.  


Are students at Columbine successful in AP classes? 

YES!  Last year 416 students took 761 AP exams and 70% of all students passed exams with a score of 3 or higher.  Our program performs above the district, the state, and the nation’s average!

Can I retake an AP course if I am not successful the first time? 

YES!  All students can retake a course and/or the exam if they want to improve their score.  

What colleges are supporting AP Capstone?  

Photo of Universities that recognize AP capstaone
You can visit www.collegeboard.org/apcapstone for an updated list; however, the simple answer is most colleges and universities support and reward AP Capstone students.  In Colorado nearly all colleges accept AP capstone coursework and all AP exams when students score a three or higher.    

What AP courses are offered at Columbine (for students to complete the 4 AP course requirement over their four years?)

AP Capstone: AP Seminar (starting Fall 2018), AP Research (starting Fall  2019)

Arts: Art History, Music Theory, Studio Art: Drawing Portfolio, Studio Art: 2-D Design Portfolio, Studio Art: 3-D Design Portfolio

English: English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition

History and Social Sciences: Human Geography, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Psychology, United States Government and Politics, United States History, World History

Mathematics and Computer Science: Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Statistics, Computer Science Principles

Sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Physics 1, Physics 2, Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, Physics C: Mechanics

World languages: French Language and Culture, Spanish Language and Culture

(Not all of these courses will be offered every year.  They will be offered based off of student interest and teacher availability.)  

What does this look like for the student? 

Here are some examples of how a student at Columbine might meet the Capstone requirements:

Student A

9th grade:    AP geography

10th grade:  AP Seminar,  AP US History

11th grade:  AP Research, AP English Language and Composition

12th grade:  AP English Literature and Composition

Student B

10th grade: AP US history

11th grade:  AP Seminar, AP World History, AP English Language and Composition

12th grade:  AP Research, AP Psychology

Student C 

10th grade:   AP Seminar

11th grade:  AP Research, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science

12th grade:  AP Physics, AP Calculus

Students can take any four AP courses they are interested in - which makes the AP Capstone program very unique.  There is no set program.  They can try foreign language, art, English, social sciences, math and/or sciences - anything they want - it is completely their choice!

Can my student manage the workload of this program?   

YES!  Last year Columbine had over 56 students successfully pass 3 or more AP exams.  Most students are able to do this and remain involved in sports, clubs, and various extra-curricular activities.  Students need to manage their time; but, Columbine prides itself on being a comprehensive high school and we want kids involved in our school and community - not just honors courses!  

Where can I get more information?

Please contact Shannon Vigil, assistant principal, at svigil@jeffco.k12.co.us or 303-982-1076 for further questions.  

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