The philosophy at Berkeley is that the AP®
courses should be taught at the college level, as intended by the College Board®
, and as expected by the colleges. It is for this reason that the majority of our AP®
classes are available to junior and senior students; it is a rare freshman or sophomore in high school who is prepared to successfully master the material in a college-level course. Therefore, our curriculum in grades 9, 10 and 11 is designed to build a foundation for students that lead to readiness for AP®
success. It is an approach that has been highly successful for our students and school.
While maintaining rigorous entrance requirements befitting a college-level course, we have made AP® courses more accessible to qualified students. Since 2015, the number of students taking at least one AP® exam has increased by almost 20%. In 2019, 295 students took at least one AP® exam and we administered 800 exams. The increased accessibility of AP® courses continues to be accompanied by an impressively high level of performance on the AP® exams. Over the past five years, as we have continued to increase access to the AP® courses, Berkeley students have taken more than 3,600 AP® exams and achieved an incredible 86% pass rate. Students are reviewed by college readers in the context of the program available to them at Berkeley and invariably benefit from the strong reputation we enjoy nationally.
At the same time, we resist any temptation to be complacent but instead remain at the forefront of issues of interest surrounding the AP® program; we continuously evaluate and research our program and make changes that are in the best interests of our students, their education and the college process. In addition, we encourage parents and students to work closely with Berkeley’s academic counselors to ensure a challenging schedule in which a student can be academically successful is in place.
At Berkeley, we require all AP® students to take the exam as part of their commitment to the course. Our college counselors are sometimes asked about the importance of the AP® exam score (given the exam takes place at the end of the year) and the level of interest a college actually has in the outcome of the course. Again, the reality is that colleges and universities consider the strength of a school’s AP® program when determining the merits of a student’s course choices and rigor of academic schedule. If the school’s “pass rate” is low, the assumption can be that the AP® courses taught are of questionable rigor; in such a scenario, the number of Advanced Placement® courses on a student’s transcript can have considerably less advantageous impact on the admissions outcome.