AP Seminar: 2021 Results

The following data reflect the 46,840 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Seminar Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

AP Seminar score distributions, 2019 vs. 2021

The following table enables comparisons of student performance in 2021 to student performance on the comparable full-length exam prior to the covid-19 pandemic:

AP Score 2019 2021
5 7% 11%
4 15% 19%
3 59% 55%
2 17% 11%
1 2% 4%

Of these 46,840 students, 24 achieved perfect scores from all professors/teachers across all projects, tasks, presentations, and essays in the course plus the end-of-course exam, earning all 150 or 150 points possible, a tremendous achievement.

The May 11 In-School Paper Exam

The largest exam date for AP Seminar was May 11, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

Part A: Understanding and analyzing an argument concerning public libraries

  • AP Seminar students demonstrated strong abilities, with 22% earning all or most of the 15 points possible.

Part B: Evidence-based argument essay

  • Students generally scored well across the 4 rows of the rubric, but had more difficulty earning points for selecting and using evidence than for the other 3 rows of the rubric.

The May 26 Digital Exams

To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  1. Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  2. Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  3. The net result is that for this year’s AP Seminar Exams, most of the digital versions were slightly more difficult than the paper version. Accordingly, to receive a 3+ on the more difficult digital versions, students needed to earn 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 fewer points (depending on the version) than students who took the paper exam.