Jennifer Mendes May 12 2020

Advanced Placement at Concordia Shanghai Explained

At Concordia International School Shanghai, we offer a liberal arts, North American education for our students of grades 9 to 12.  As students progress through the high school program, they gain greater access to both the Advanced Placement (AP) program as well as our own Applied Learning Program.

Advanced Placement is a program developed by the College Board.  This is the same company that creates and offers the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), which is the well-known assessment used by universities to determine which students to admit to their institutions. 

Advantages of AP for Concordia's student demographic

We believe that the (AP) program is advantageous for our students because our students, by and large, are seeking to study post-secondarily in North America.  Universities in both the United States and Canada are very familiar with the AP program and some will even grant college credit for AP courses taken in high school. 

This is not to say that students wishing to gain acceptance to universities in place such as Europe and Australia are limited. To the contrary, successfully completing AP courses does much to demonstrate to universities worldwide a student's ability to handle high academic rigor. 

Additionally, for students who know to which program they will apply once in university, specific AP courses will position students well to enter directly into their desired program of study. 


How are Advanced Placement courses carried out at Concordia?

There are a wide range of AP courses at Concordia.  In fact, we offer AP courses in six of our eight academic departments.  In total we run 20 AP courses which include AP English Language Literature, AP Art History, AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, AP Psychology, AP Economics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Spanish to name a few.  

All AP courses are one school year in length and culminate in an externally moderated exam at the beginning of May.  Our teachers are skilled in developing our students’ knowledge and understanding in each of the AP courses so that they score well and earn college credit for these courses. 

Students earn a letter grade for their AP courses as well as a score for their externally moderated exam, which is scored on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest score.  On average universities will grant college credit for AP courses completed if a student earns a score of 3 or higher.  A student who earns a 4 is deemed well-qualified in that subject area by the College Board.  

The real benefit of the AP program over, let’s say the IB program, is that the courses are one year in length.  Our students are not locked into a two year program spanning their 11th and 12th grade years.  Instead, they have the freedom to experience different courses and subject areas while still going deeply in each one by studying them at a college level.  


How do Concordia high school students determine which courses to take?

Our students begin with course selection at the end of January each year.  At this point in the school year, they have finished with the first semester, and they are in a good position to know how they are faring in their current courses and if they would like to study a particular subject area further and more in depth by taking yet another course in that area.  

Students are given a four year plan to help them chart out their program of studies over their four years of high school.  This is a living document in that it can and will change as students have different experiences in courses or in summer internships.  This document also guides students in their meeting our graduation requirements; for example, each student must take four years of English, three years of science, three years of social studies and three years of math. 

Students fill out their four year plan and create a plan for the upcoming school year.  In reviewing our course description guide, they find an overview of the course and the prerequisites. 

If in reviewing the course description guide they have questions, students are encouraged to reach out to their guidance counselor.  This is a faculty member who is matched with the student for the entirety of their four years of high school. 

The counselor develops a deep understanding of the student in terms of their strengths, their interests and their future aspirations for both university and future career.  With this perspective, the counselor aptly counsels the student on the best course of action in terms of what courses to take.  Our counselors are helping students to develop the strongest profile possible by displaying their strengths, their interests and academic vigor.  


What if a student is undecided about their college or career goals?

It is very common for high school students to change their future goals and aspirations.  We see this often and we expect it.  For this reason, we help students develop a strong foundation within the four areas of liberal arts study (which includes natural sciences, social sciences, creative arts and humanities) early in their high school years.  Then in grades 11 and 12 our students can go more deeply in those areas that interest them most by taking AP courses or Applied Learning courses. 

Through liberal arts study and meeting our graduation requirements, our students are well positioned to pursue advanced studies in a wide range of areas beyond high school. 


Ms. Jennifer Mendes, high school assistant principal
at Concordia International School Shanghai