AP Capstone – Preparing Students for College


Last year’s AP Seminar students were successful in their projects.

Iona Brooks, Staff Writer

Launched in 2014, the AP Capstone Diploma is one of College Board’s most recent additions to their course offerings. The Capstone Degree is obtained through scoring a three or higher on both the AP Research and AP Seminar exams as well as on four other AP exams of your choosing. Alternatively, if students do not get a three or higher on at least four other exams, they will receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate. The classes focus largely on group and independent research and building your own skills and confidence in argumentation and writing. Both classes prepare students with essential skills for college by teaching students how to analyze sources, evidence, and arguments and use those skills to communicate ideas on a topic.

History department chair John Niven teaches both classes within the Capstone program.

“I think it’s one of the programs that has the most relevant content, and I’d love to see, if not AP, a version of that for all Juniors. The important skills are researching things, which a lot of people think they can do but struggle with. Secondly, how to evaluate evidence and credibility, the difference between a regular article and a peer-reviewed article and how to find the credibility expected at a college level,” said Niven.

AP Research allows students to use the skills developed in Seminar to create their own year-long project researching a topic of their choosing, culminating in a research paper and presentation. Senior Alex Vihlen is completing his research project this year after doing well in Seminar last year. 

“[The Capstone Program] gives us all the skills we need to succeed not only in high school, like being able to give presentations, write effectively, and make an argument, but also all the skills we’ll need in college. They call it Capstone for a reason; it’s really because it gives you all the necessary skills you’ll need for now and later,” said Vihlen.

For Seminar there is a two hour exam with only two questions with the first asking students to identify arguments, claims, and effectiveness of an argument and the second being a 90 minute DBQ style question where students are asked to form their own arguments based on the sources provided. Research does not have an exam, with the paper and presentation dictating the student’s final grade.

Overall, the Capstone program, while not always applicable for testing out of college credits, provides some of the most important skills students will need to succeed and thrive in college. For any LMP student looking to build on their argumentation and writing skills, AP Capstone is a must!