Academic Insights: TCS Advanced Placement Program

In May 2019, a new record was set at Trinity College School with the largest number of Advanced Placement (AP) exams being written in one year. This year, 294 exams were written by 197 students in 22 different subjects.

TCS continues to offer one of the widest arrays of Advanced Placement (AP) courses in the country, this year offering 22 AP courses and exams to Senior School students. Below is a list of courses and the number of TCS students who participated in each.

  • German Language and Culture: 1
  • Psychology: 1
  • Spanish Language and Culture: 2
  • Japanese: 2
  • Comparative Government & Politics: 5
  • Research: 6
  • English Literature & Composition: 8
  • Statistics: 10
  • Physics 2: 11
  • Studio Art: Drawing: 11
  • Environmental Science: 11
  • Biology: 12
  • Microeconomics: 15
  • Computer Science A: 17
  • Seminar: 17
  • Chinese Language & Culture: 17
  • Chemistry: 18
  • French Language and Culture: 19
  • Physics 1: 19
  • Calculus AB: 21
  • English Language & Composition: 23
  • Computer Science Principles: 48

The goal of the AP program is to enable students to pursue further enrichment and university preparedness by engaging with first-year university level academic content while still in secondary school.

The two-week exam period began on Monday, May 13th. While AP exams vary in format and length, students generally spent three hours per exam covering material from throughout the course. AP exams are designed and moderated by the College Board, and last year five million exams were written in over 110 countries throughout the world. All AP exams are graded on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest possible grade and indicating that the candidate is “extremely well qualified” in that subject; a grade of 3 is considered to be a passing grade.

The record-setting year in terms of numbers of exams was due in a large part to a 200% increase in students writing the AP Computer Science Principles exam. In order to best prepare students for the world ahead of them, the School recognizes the value of, and need for, computer science and basic coding literacy. Starting in the 2018-2019 academic year, the School now mandates all Grade 9 students to take the full-credit Introduction to Computer Science course (ICS2O). See the article, “Academic Insights: TCS Computer Studies Department” for more information on this change. As a component of this course, students had the option of pursuing additional enrichment by working towards the AP Computer Science Principles exam.

AP Capstone Diploma
In line with the Senior School’s academic vision focused on developing 21st century skills of collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity, TCS continues to embrace the innovative Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Diploma. The diploma is built upon the foundation of two core courses – AP Seminar and AP Research – both intended to supplement and enrich the comprehensive, subject-specific study provided through the School’s senior level courses.

The AP Research course is only available to Grade 12 students who have successfully completed the pre-requisite AP Seminar course in Grade 11. AP Research provides a unique opportunity for graduating students to engage in sustained, in-depth research on a topic of personal interest. The course is structured to actively develop research, writing, revision, presentation and oral defence skills. TCS alumni who completed the AP Capstone Diploma have continually cited how helpful the program was in terms of preparedness for the research and writing they faced in university.

This year’s AP Research class worked diligently towards completing their 5,000 word essay on their original research, along with building a 20 minute multimedia presentation and preparing for an oral defence. See the list of Grade 12 presenters and their topics below:

  • Gemma Varty: “How the brain reacts to positive versus negative balanced music”
  • Emma Hak-Kovacs: “How adolescent Jehovah’s Witnesses may or may not be considered mature minors in Canada (as related to medical decision-making)”
  • Harrison Wou: “Improving jazz improvisation competence in high school musicians”
  • Danielle Thebeau: “The effect of new concussion protocol on the mood of student-athletes”
  • Curtis Yau: “Measures taken by social networks to protect user privacy”

To learn more about the AP Capstone Diploma and how to participate, visit

Our TCS students are to be commended on their outstanding work both in the AP Capstone Diploma program and our rich selection of Advanced Placement courses.

- By Myke Healy, director of teaching and learning