The second semester AP Seminar exam presents students with the ability to improve vital skills


Morgan Beckett

A picture of current AP seminar students that are presenting.

For any college-level course, it’s expected that there’s an exam to follow, but the elements of each exam can vary from class to class. For AP Seminar teacher Morgan Beckett, the fundamentals are what’s most important. 

“[For] most AP exams you are preparing for one end-of-year exam,” Beckett said. “Usually that exam is a few hours; AP seminar is different because your exam has multiple components, and we work heavily on [them] in [the] second semester. 

In terms of the components necessary to prepare for the exam, there are separate parts that must be taken into account and pieced together. Once the pieces are refined, they are sent to College Board. 

“There [are] five components [in] total,” Beckett said. “Two of them [are] a paper and [a] presentation based on that paper with a group. Another is an individual paper and presentation on your own. Your final [component] is a sit-down exam, but [is] much less time than all the other AP exams.”

But the factor that really prepares students for AP exams is actually the preparation [and] projects that go on during the first semester. What’s so captivating about the assignments is that they not only are a model of what to expect for the exam, but also a way for students to reflect on what they can improve on. 

We do a mock PT, one where students form groups that they choose [with] usually three to four people and they pick any topic [or] problem in the world that they’re interested in and they research it based on a different lens.

— Morgan Beckett

“Last semester, we did a book-based project for our [semester] exam,” Beckett said. “First semester, we do what we call a mock. We do a mock PT one, where students form groups that they choose [with] usually three to four people and they pick any topic [or] problem in the world that they’re interested in and they research it based on a different lens.” 

What’s nice about these trials is that they not only allow students to practice their skills but also enable them to grow some of the skills that they already possess, such as presenting. One presentation that really caught the attention of Beckett was on a topic related to the workforce.

“There was a group that [was] doing their topic [on] ‘To what extent are sweatshops a necessary evil?’,” Beckett said. “There are two students in that group that believe one side of the argument and two that believe the other, but they’re all in the same group. Now they’re in the process of coming together and [getting] the facts of the [pros and] cons of sweatshops.” 

Alongside the presentation and argumentative factors that come with AP seminar, junior Josie Crosse has really enjoyed the teamwork aspect. In AP Seminar the dependence is often spread, but especially in the second semester, it’s more important to rely on peers than teachers for guidance. 

“My favorite aspect of AP seminar is the collaboration,” Josie said. “[In] the second semester, your teachers can’t really help you [write] your papers or [with] your presentations, so you really have to learn how to work with other people and get feedback.” 

As the semester treads along, despite the fact that the dependency must be dispersed, Josie has found certain assignments particularly intriguing. Specifically, the ones that require an analytical viewpoint have piqued her interest. 

“We did not have a formal AP exam [last semester], because most of our writing and research is based on essays,” Josie said. “Throughout the year, we’ve just had the essay deadlines that we’ve had to meet. For our final exam, we did more of a creative project on a dystopian book we read and  got to choose any creative lens to take and explain our book through.”

What sets the two semesters apart from each other is that they focus on necessary skills that are important to practice throughout the year. First semester is more geared toward reading books and presentations. Second semester is more centered around creating essay papers and presentations that will help you prepare for the exam. 

Regardless of the significance that’s placed on the presentation and formality aspect of the course, being able to read books and use more of their comprehension skills has also been a nice change of scenery for the class. 

“Last semester, we did have a few tests and quizzes,” Josie said. “We read The Great Alone, which is one of the required books we read throughout the course. There [were] checkups throughout [the] reading that tested what you read and your knowledge of the book.” 

For students who are currently in the class, or are hoping to take it in the years to come, there are multiple benefits to being a part of it. There are numerous rudimentary skills that you learn which will help you advance even further once you reach the college level. 

Junior Quinn Hane has really enjoyed the interdependence that she has been able to use within the classroom. Because second semester is so focused on the exam, it’s nice to have the chance to constantly be making revisions to make their submissions the best they can be. 

“[The exam is] almost less stressful this way because you have time to write your research essay [and] you have time to practice presenting,” Quinn said. “It’s not super rushed. We’re given plenty of time to do our research [which is] definitely one thing I like.” 

On the other hand, Quinn has also incorporated a lot of AP classes within her schedule. So having AP Seminar is a great time block in her day where she can have the opportunity to have some time to herself to work on her papers. 

“You can always double-check your work before submitting it and there’s a lot of leniency with deadlines,” Quinn said. “[This] is something that’s really nice, especially if you’re someone who’s taking a ton of other AP classes like I am.” 

Luckily, Quinn has an idea of what she wants to go into and is excited about what this class has already prepared her for. She has heard positive things from upperclassmen and has gained a multitude of skills that she knows will help her in the long run. 

“I’ve always really wanted to work on my presenting skills,” Quinn said. “Research is something I want to do in the future because I want to go into the science field. It’s important to build up your skills in high school before you get to the collegiate level. AP seminar [is] really preparing me for writing essays and analyzing other people’s research. 

From start to finish, every assignment, quiz, test, and presentation has been implemented throughout the year to prepare students to critically think and even analyze their own writing. But if AP seminar teacher Morgan Beckett had to encapsulate it in one phrase, it would be this. 

“Everything [the students are] doing with the presentations [and] the paper writing prepares them for that exam,” Beckett said. “It’s not any surprise what’s coming to them. They [will]  read their own essay, and they have to pick out the argumentative elements of it and answer a few questions.”