Students hoping to get accepted to top universities often take Advanced Placement courses, a rigorous series of classes in 30 subjects that can earn them college credit. In order to receive credit for the courses, students must get a passing grade on a three-hour exam that is independently graded and includes both multiple choice questions and a so-called “free response section.” While the rigorous exams always strike fear in the hearts of high school student, the anxiety level is on the rise as word spreads that changes are in store for both the courses and the tests.

The College Board’s Advance Placement Program is making changes to AP world languages, science and history in an effort to “foster students’ capacity to think and reason in a deeper way.” First up are changes to German, French and World History, which will be implemented in the 2011-2012 school year. Changes to select AP science courses will not go into effect until the 2012-2013 school year, but the College Board has already posted a draft version of the revised AP Biology curriculum online.  As Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board put it, “These changes will spread best practices across AP classrooms worldwide.”