AP Capstone: AP Research


AP Research allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, or issue of individual interest. Through this exploration, students design, plan, and conduct a year-long research based investigation to address a research question.

In the AP Research course, students further their skills acquired in the AP Seminar course by understanding research methodology; employing ethical research practices; and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information as they address a research question. Students explore their skill development, document their processes, and curate the artifacts of the development of their scholarly work in a portfolio. The course culminates in an academic paper of approximately 4000–5000 words (accompanied by a performance or exhibition of product where applicable) and a presentation with an oral defense. 

AP Capstone Research Course Content

Although the topic of each research study will vary, the course requires students to plan and conduct a study or investigation. The course provides opportunities (activities/assignments) for students to

  • Understand principles of discipline-specific research methods(e.g., qualitative, quantitative, mixed)
  • Employ appropriate disciplinary research methods to develop,manage, and conduct an in-depth study or investigation in anarea of student’s own interest, culminating in a 4000–5000word paper (accompanied by an additional piece of scholarlywork — where applicable — to be performed or exhibited).
  • Present (using appropriate media) and defend the researchdesign, approach, and findings to a panel.
  • Document their processes and curate the artifacts of thedevelopment of their scholarly work in a portfolio.

Pedagogical Framework

Throughout the program, students consider and evaluate multiple points of view to develop their own perspectives on complex issues and topics through inquiry and investigation. The AP Capstone program provides students with a framework that allows them to develop, practice, and hone their critical and creative thinking skills as they make connections between various issues and their own lives.

Students use the following framework as they explore issues and topics:

  • Question and Explore
  • Understand and Analyze
  • Evaluate Multiple Perspectives
  • Synthesize Ideas
  • Team, Transform, and Transmit

AP Research Assessment Structure

Students are assessed on the academic paper and presentation and oral defense of research. The academic paper is approximately 4,000–5,000 words, and the presentation and defense take approximately 15-20 minutes.

Assessment Overview

  • Academic Paper - 75% of score
  • Presentation and Oral Defense - 25% of score

Full details about the AP Research course can be found in this overview provided by the College Board's website.

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