Historical changes

College Board changes AP Art History curriculum, passing rate hoped to increase


Photo by Kayla Neff

AP Art History teacher, Debbie Nicholas explains perspective to her students.

Story by Anna Cannon, feature editor

The College Board has made drastic revisions to the AP Art History test and curriculum. Formerly known as one of the most difficult AP tests, the Art History exam could have included any piece of art in existence. Now, the scope has been narrowed, which may cause the passing rates to increase.

“This is the first time in 40 years that the exam has been changed,” art history teacher Debbie Nicholas said. “They’ve reduced the amount of artwork that a student needs to know. There will be questions on 250 works, whereas before it could have been anything that has ever been created.”

Before, the lack of information about the exam left teachers in the dark. Now, the College Board has provided some direction that will benefit both the teachers and the students.

“The AP test had no real objectives before,’” Nicholas said. “Every teacher was trying to guess what was going to be on the test. We now have 12 objectives and three big ideas that are going to help lead our teaching.”

While the amount of required work likely won’t change, students will be able to prepare more for the artworks that are known to be on the test.

“The things the students need to know are spelled out a little bit better, and we know what kind of questions will be asked on the test,” Nicholas said. “Because we’ve narrowed the scope as far as artworks go, students get to concentrate on those 250 works rather than thousands. That way they’re more prepared for the works that are actually going to be on the test.”

Nicholas is optimistic for the future of her class and approves of the curriculum changes.

“I think passing rates will improve,” Nicholas said. “I like the change. It’s nice to have a target instead of having to aim in the dark.