How to Survive AP Seminar


Photo courtesy of Emmy Williams

Students Trinity Walls, Peirong Gao, Emmy Williams, and Sophia Wang right before their TMP presentation.

Emmy Williams, Editor

It’s safe to say that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I put AP Seminar on my sophomore year course request form. I knew it was a writing-centric class, and I knew that it was part of a two-year program called AP Capstone. That’s it. There’s a lot I wish someone had told me about Seminar before I took it, so from someone who received a 5, here’s my advice for being successful in Seminar (and making it out in one piece).

Tip #1: Educate yourself

Research is what the entire class is based on, so naturally, it’s important to do some research into what the class entails before taking it. You can check out websites such as and to find more information. In simple terms, Seminar is a research-based class in which students take part in two projects, which are referred to as Performance Task 1 and Performance Task 2. Performance Task 1 begins with your group choosing a topic and research question, then moves on to an individual essay, the IRR, and a group presentation, the TMP. In Performance Task 2 you choose your own topic and research question, then write an essay, the IWA, and give a presentation, the IMP. It sounds daunting, I know, but the research involved in this class will prove to be beneficial, especially in college classes. Also, if you’re scared of public speaking, this class will most definitely cure that, at least it did for me.

Tip #2: Fix Your Time Management

If you have poor time management skills, you will most likely not be able to keep up with Seminar’s humongous workload. That being said, even if your time management is less than stellar, there’s still hope for you (and your grade). My advice is to make sure you do a little at a time, rather than doing everything the night before it’s due. This will likely increase the quality of your work, and will most definitely save you from some sleepless nights.

Tip #3: Study for the Exam

As obvious as it sounds, studying (or not studying) for the AP Seminar Exam can make or break your score. Throughout the year, your teacher will give you practice assignments to help you prepare for the exam, but in order to be successful on the exam, you should spend a good bit of time studying on your own too. My advice is to begin studying about two weeks before. Focus on memorizing the rubric for Part A and B to the best of your ability, and read a lot of samples that received both good and poor scores, so you know what scorers are expecting. Here are some from the 2021 school year:  

Part A sample

Part B sample

Tip #4: Remember that it’s worth it

I do not regret taking AP Seminar, and I know that I’ve learned a lot in it, despite it being a very self-guided class. I learned valuable lessons about research, public speaking, and my ability to write 1000 words in four hours (which I do not recommend).  If you end up taking Seminar I believe that you too will find value in the copious amount of pain. Happy researching!