Is AP Seminar easy or hard? We reveal the AP Seminar difficulty rating, based on a unique combination of 2021 pass rate data, and 2,627 class reviews from real AP alumnae collected by r/APStudents.

Is AP Seminar Easy Or Hard?

AP Seminar is considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.8/10 for overall difficulty (the 18th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed).

The pass rate is much higher than other AP classes, with 85% graduating with a 3 or higher.

AP Seminar is quite a small class (46,840 entries last year), and 66% would recommend the class, which is the lowest of all AP classes.

Is AP Seminar Easy or Hard – Difficulty Rating

AP Seminar forms part of the Capstone Diploma Program in tandem with AP Research.

Alumnae reviews rate AP Seminar as quite easy but are divided on the usefulness of the course and skills developed. The course requires completion of a group project, and as such is not recommended by AP Seminar alumnae for self study.

You can see how AP Seminar compares to other classes for difficulty in the below chart:

AP Seminar difficulty

We’ve highlighted AP Seminar only – to see the full version of this chart, check out our article ranking ALL the AP classes from easy to hard.

How Difficult Is AP Seminar – As Rated By Class Alumnae

AP Seminar is considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.8/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 18th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed.

is AP Seminar easy

What Is the AP Seminar Pass Rate 2021?

The AP Seminar 2021 pass rate was much higher than other AP classes, at 85%. The large majority of students (55%) passed with a 3, a much higher figure than the all-AP average. Only 19% achieved a 4, and 11% attained a 5.

AP Seminar pass rate

AP Seminar Pass Rate / Score Distribution Over Time: 2021, 2020, 2019…

The AP Seminar score distribution has not varied significantly over the past 5 years of exams. However, a larger percentage of 2021 students passed the AP Seminar exam and attained a higher grade than in the previous three years.

AP Seminar score distribution

Is AP Seminar Time Consuming To Study: As Rated By AP Seminar Alumnae

AP Seminar is rated as quite time-intensive relative to other AP classes.

A survey of AP alumnae asked for a rating out of 10 for time needed to study each class, with 1 = least time needed, 10 = most time. The average rating for AP Seminar was 6.1/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.3/10).

Is AP Seminar Easy or Hard To Self-Study

AP Seminar is rated as very hard to self-study relative to other AP classes.

A survey of AP alumnae asked for a rating out of 10 for how easy each class is to self study, with 1 = easiest to self study, 10 = hardest to self study. The average rating for AP Seminar was 7.3/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.7/10).

How Hard Is AP Seminar: 35 Real AP Seminar Alumnae Share Their Experiences

If you’re looking forward to taking AP Seminar, it’s important to take both the positive and negative feedback in context. There are multiple factors that could contribute to a great or poor experience of the class, such as a particularly weak teacher, an unenthusiastic group for the group project, and your personal preferences as a learner.

Only 66% of AP Seminar alumnae would recommend the class, which is the lowest score of the 28 large AP classes surveyed.

The majority of reviews focus on the group project, the usefulness of the skills developed, and the importance of avoiding procrastination.

1.      Some students find AP Seminar useful and the skills it teaches valuable …

“AP Seminar is honestly one of the most useful AP courses one could take. The research skills are INVALUABLE and the capstone diploma isn’t anything to ignore.” – AP Seminar Score: 4

“Of all the APs I have taken, this class proved most surprising in how useful it is. Above basic research skills the class also teaches you how to manage time well and work with others intensely in a way few other classes can. I have no doubt I am better prepared for college.” – AP Seminar Score: 5

“It’s a really good course (depending on your teacher, I suppose) and you develop lots of important skills. I think it’s important to really do a lot of research and practice writing essays and giving presentations.” – AP Seminar Score: 3

“I strongly suggest AP Seminar. It’s a great experience where you learn to understand arguments and research in depth. It teaches you proper vetting skills for making sure a source is credible. You truly get to learn about what you want to learn about. It’s a very experimental program, which works to your favor in terms of passing.” – AP Seminar Score: 3

2.      … However, other students didn’t find AP Seminar useful at all

“Did not enjoy – you have much less freedom than the class promises. Not difficult but time consuming. The class is about testing if you can write to a rubric more than anything else (I’m strong in writing and argumentation, but I didn’t write with the rubric in mind which knocked my score down) – also, many people do badly on this exam.” – AP Seminar Score: 4

“Teaches useful skills but SUCH a BORING CLASS oh my god I regret taking it. Also most colleges don’t give credit for it, except American University if you want to go there.” AP Seminar Score: 3

“Useless without planning to complete AP Research. Easiest exam to pass, hard to make a 4 or 5.” – AP Seminar Score: 3

3.      A lot depends on the group project …

“Hope you get a good, reliable team. Our teacher let us influence our choices, which set me up with a group who’d do their share. Make sure you choose a topic that you can argue for in your papers” – AP Seminar Score: 5

“The fact that a group project determines some of your AP score is wack since high school kids have varying degrees of “caring” about doing well on the AP exam. I basically did the entire group project myself and barely made it out with a passing grade.” – AP Seminar Score: 3

 “If there are people in your ap sem class who you wouldn’t want to work with for a month-long group project, I recommend dropping the class because I guarantee you will get assigned them in your group.” – AP Seminar Score: 3

4.      … which makes it difficult to self study for AP Seminar

“You can’t self study for this course since you need to do a group project and submit a portfolio, some of which is graded by your teacher I believe.” – AP Seminar Score: 3

“You probably won’t be able to self-study this class – as one project you need to complete for the class is a group project.” – AP Seminar Score: 3

What Does It Take To Succeed: How To Study For The AP Seminar Exam

What is AP Seminar? Course Outline & Requirements

According to College Board:

“AP Seminar is a foundational course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore the complexities of academic and real-world topics and issues by analyzing divergent perspectives.”

There are no prerequisite requirements for completing the AP Seminar course.

You will develop skills in:

  • Investigating problems and issues
  • Understanding and analysing arguments
  • Evaluating different perspectives and sources
  • Constructing evidence-based arguments
  • Synthesising information from multiple sources
  • Collaborating with others to accomplish team goals

The AP seminar assessment consists of one 2-hour exam (45%), one “individual research-based essay and presentation” (35%), and a team project and presentation (20%).

The exam is divided into two components: Part A (30 mins) where “students are asked to analyze an argument using evidence”; and Part B (90 mins) where “students are asked to build their own arguments” using four provided sources.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP Seminar course page.

Examiners’ Reviews: Takeaways From AP Seminar Test Assessors

College Board released the following official comments about the 2021 exam results:

  • Part A: Understanding and analyzing an argument: “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.”

For best results, you may therefore want to consider investing a little extra study time in the skills required for Part B of the AP Seminar Exam, such as analysing sources from different perspectives, and building your own arguments.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP Seminar 2021 exam results page.

How To (Self) Study AP Seminar: Advice From Class Alumnae

Whilst AP Seminar alumnae agree that the course is difficult to self-study for, they do have the following advice for doing well:

Develop your essay writing and public speaking skills

“Really easy to pass with a 3, provided you can write a basic structured essay and use proper grammar.” – AP Seminar Score: 5

“This isn’t one of those classes that you buy books, absorb information, and cram for. It’s testing your writing and speaking skills, and needless to say, you can’t learn how to write a proper argumentative essay in one year; you CAN get over a fear of public speaking/stuttering/other oratory issues though. The best and only thing your teacher can do for you is offering feedback on essays you write and identifying weak spots to improve. If you’re someone that doesn’t like arguing or cannot identify complex problems for ideal solutions quickly and easily, this class isn’t for you.” – AP Seminar Score: 5

Use your class time wisely – don’t procrastinate!

“Don’t procrastinate” – AP Seminar Score: 3

“Don’t procrastinate and work with your teammates.” – AP Seminar Score: 3

“For the love of god DO NOT PROCRASTINATE.” – AP Seminar Score: 3

“Don’t procrastinate on any of the essays. Start and try to finish you first draft by the end of the week they are assigned.” – AP Seminar Score: 4

“Be sure to have an open mind when you are taking this course. You’ll need to not only depend on yourself but also other students to be able to succeed on your projects. Don’t procrastinate on your research and your essays. If you ever need help, be sure to ask for it!” – AP Seminar Score: 5

“Find a good group, and actually spend the available class time working on the paper. Practice the formats of the essays.” – AP Seminar Score: 3

Start early, and practice for the exam

“Practice the hell out of the EOC exam. That separates the men from the boys. Be strong in your presentation. Read all the stimulus material. Don’t take it too seriously.” – AP Seminar Score: 3

“The most important tip I guess I have is to make sure you begin practicing the EOC’s early, primarily Part B. …. I goofed pretty badly on Part B despite all the time I spent IRR/IWA, rip. :/ Also make sure to get a good group at the start of the year, so you don’t screw up the TMP.’ – AP Seminar Score: 4

Best books and test prep resources for AP Seminar

Most AP Seminar students don’t use a textbook due to the requirements of the course.

94% of AP Seminar alumnae did not recommend a test prep book, with just one recommendation each for the Barron’s and Princeton Review AP Seminar textbooks.

Where next?

Find out how AP Seminar compares to other classes: click here for an overview of all AP Classes ranked by difficulty, from easiest to hardest.

Wishing you every success in the class!


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