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AP Exam Instructional Planning Reports

Now that school is about to start (or has already started for many), I have observed a lot of social media posts, and have personally received inquiries, about planning and teaching AP Language and Culture courses for the new school year. AP examsThere is a plethora of concerns, from what materials to use, to how to pace the course and how to decorate and prepare the classroom, among others. This underscores what we in the AP world all already know: AP World Language teachers are passionate, dedicated, wonderful educators, always looking for ways to lead students to higher AP scores in May.

As everyone dives into curriculum, there is one tool that AP teachers already have that can truly inform lesson content: Instructional Planning Reports, better known as IPRs, received about seven to ten days after our subject score reports/rosters. Do you use them to plan for instruction for the new academic year or just regard them as “last year’s data”? These personalized reports are really quite useful for reflection and planning, helping teachers make informed choices in mapping out instruction. In this blog post, we will take a look together.


AP examFirst, let’s review what constitutes the core of our AP World Language and Culture courses. Besides grounding instruction in World-Readiness Standards and ACTFL proficiency targets of Intermediate-High to Advanced-Low and beyond, in our daily teaching we need to present students with learning opportunities that incorporate:

  • the six core AP themes
  • a variety of contexts through which to connect students to those themes
  • a multitude of opportunities for applying the three modes of communication
  • constant preparation for the thirteen exam task models for French, Italian, German, and Spanish (This is different for other languages assessed, as well as for AP Spanish Literature and Culture.)
  • an understanding and appreciation of the cultural perspectives of the various communities in the world where communication takes place in the target language


While AP Subject Score Reports provide a student roster for each AP subject that lists all students and their AP scores, it is our Instructional Planning Reports that provide a deep dive into data to inform us about how students did on both sections of the exam, Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ), and Free Response Questions (FRQ). The IPRs drill down into each exam task type and are filterable by theme, AP skills, and the like—in essence giving us feedback on most of the bullet points above that are part of everyday teaching.

AP examSo, in anticipating needs for new AP classes, let’s see what we can learn from these reports, using detailed results from the exam taken in May to help inform instruction for the new academic year. For new AP World Language teachers who did not give the exam last May, I recommend requesting IPRs from your AP coordinator. Those IPRs will provide meaningful data about last year’s results to apply in planning for this year’s instruction. Keep in mind that, while most multiple-choice tasks and questions will continue on to next year’s exam, the four free response questions will be brand new each year.


First, let’s take a look at Section I (MCQ) on the AP French, Italian, German, and Spanish IPR report, as shown in the example blow:

AP exam


Credit: AP Spanish Language and Culture Curriculum and Exam Description, CED, page 161.



To do this, access your IPRs and reflect on the tasks for Multiple Choice, both Parts A and B.

AP exam



Remember to filter for specific information to help you reflect, as shown in the image to the left.




Reflection and Planning

The following questions will help with reflection as you examine the IPRs for MCQ:

  • Where are my students’ strengths?
  • With which kind of texts were they most successful? How about skills? Themes? Units?
  • Where do I need to do to “ramp up” their preparation?
    • Is there a theme to which I need to give more attention?
    • Do I need to give more listening or combined text practice? Which task model types?
    • How is their reading? What kind of reading texts challenge them more?
    • Which skills are weakest? Strongest?
    • What about their ability to transfer receptive skills to productive skills?


Keep the above questions in mind as you:

  1. Consider the degree to which students were successful with skills 1–4 (as shown in these images), keeping in mind the need to consult pages 163–164 in the CED for exactly which skills are assessed in each of the nine multiple choice text types/task sets.

AP exam

AP exam


2.  Consider the degree to which students were successful by text type/task model.

AP exam    AP exam


3.   Consider the degree to which students were successful by AP Theme or by AP Classroom Unit Guides (generally the same results).

AP exam


4.  Consider how students did when they were asked to extend their thinking, as though they were going to “produce” text based on what they have received in interpretive form. (Such as a question/situation where students are going to give a presentation to a community group on a topic and must choose which additional resource would help them prepare, or what an appropriate title would be.)

AP exam







More questions to consider in preparing students for MCQs over the course of the year:

  • How well do they understand questions and options?
  • Is there frequent vocabulary that appears in questions? Analyze practice exams to identify frequent vocabulary used in questions and responses. You can review this example from my files on Google Drive: Example – Spanish.

Advice for formative practice in listening: Fragment the listening experience with shorter segments and questions for just that segment. This builds confidence and a can-do attitude!

Next, let’s take a look at Section II (FRQs) on the AP French, Italian, German, and Spanish IPR report, as shown in the example below:

AP exam


Credit: AP Spanish Language and Culture Curriculum and Exam Description, CED, page 161.



To do this, access your IPRs and reflect on the tasks for Free Response Questions.

AP exam

Note that there are no filters (themes, skills, etc.) for the FRQs, just scores, but you can consider how your group compares to state and global averages—or perhaps it has the same average score. (This is the case when there is no arrow up or down, as shown above for Questions 3 and 4.) What is important is reflecting on the degree to which students are prepared for each of the four FRQ tasks. Remember to also consult your CED for Skills 5–8, which focus on interpersonal and presentational skills that build proficiency and success for the four FRQs.

Where needed, note the following “general” advice that I provide for planning and writing:


FRQ #1: Email Reply

WHAT the student communicates in the email reply (content):

  • Read the curricular theme and introduction.
  • Make sure to understand why you have received this email (the context).
  • Decide to whom you will address the email/who you will greet formally.
  • Consider an appropriate, formal salutation.
  • Consider an appropriate polite introduction to the email before addressing the questions.
  • Analyze what information you should include in your responses (answers to questions) with elaboration/details. CAREFUL: Sometimes one question has two parts.
  • Decide what question(s) you will ask, with elaboration. What do you still need to know?
  • Consider how you will end the email before closing, rather than going abruptly from the questions to closing.
  • Consider what would be an appropriate, formal closing.

HOW well the student writes (language):

  • Use logical organization; effective use of transition expressions/connectors
  • Use varied vocabulary (original, advanced, thematic)
  • Use a variety of tenses and advanced structures
  • Include compound and complex sentences


FRQ #2: Argumentative Essay

WHAT the student presents in writing (content):

  • Read the curricular theme and introduction.
  • Underline important words in the prompt. Be sure to understand what you have to argue.
  • While reading, mark up the written sources in the 6 minutes you have for reading. Think about examples you can use when giving evidence and details to support your position.
  • Take good notes while listening to the audio twice. Decide which evidence and details will back up your opinion.
  • Take a position and defend it. Present your opinion/position in the first paragraph as a thesis statement, using a “hook” to engage readers.
  • Demonstrate comprehension of all three sources.
  • It may be needed (but not required) to refute a counterargument to show comprehension of a source that is largely opposite a student’s viewpoint.
  • Integrate evidence from all three sources in support of your opinion, citing sources appropriately.
  • Develop a good conclusion, restating your position in a creative way.

HOW well the student develops the essay (language):

  • Write four to five organized paragraphs; effective use of transition expressions/connectors
  • Use varied vocabulary (original, advanced, thematic, academic)
  • Use a variety of structures and verb tenses/moods
  • Strive for compound and complex sentences


FRQ #3: Conversation

WHAT the student communicates in interpersonal speaking (content):

  • Read the curricular theme and introduction.
  • Identify with whom you are going to speak and why.
  • Carefully read over the outline of the conversation.
  • Activate prior knowledge, vocabulary, etc.
  • Underline the verbs prompting you what to communicate. Sometimes the outline prompts you to do more than one thing, such as: Respond and explain Or: Reject something and propose an alternative.
  • Plan to elaborate with details for a fuller response.

HOW well the student speaks (language):

  • Use fillers/supports to give yourself more time to think and avoid gaps or silence if you are not ready. Examples: I understand… Really?… Let me think… That is so interesting….
  • Speak for the full 20 seconds; elaborate with examples and details.
  • Use varied vocabulary (original, advanced, thematic).
  • Use a variety of tenses and advanced structures, as appropriate to the conversation.
  • Use good pronunciation and intonation, along with appropriate pacing.


FRQ #4: Cultural Comparison

WHAT the student presents and compares in speaking (content):

  • Read the curricular theme and introduction.
  • Read the task well and underline/circle key words. Make sure to understand the complete question (all parts).
  • Choose which target language community you will compare with your own or another community.
  • Begin with an interesting introduction about what you will compare to “hook” your audience.
  • Think about similarities and differences within the scope of the comparison question.
  • Present points of comparison and contrast, using the “ping pong method,” in which you go back and forth between the cultures, presenting similarities and differences.
  • Elaborate with specific examples/evidence from the two cultures within the theme of the presentation, avoiding generalizations and stereotypes.
  • Conclude by summing up, restating, and emphasizing your thesis or topic of comparison in different words than those used at the beginning.

HOW well the student speaks (language):

  • Organize well: Use transitions and expressions of comparison and contrast that support and guide the presentation.
  • Use varied vocabulary (original, advanced, thematic, academic).
  • Use a variety of advanced structures, tenses, and moods to support your comparison.
  • Use good pronunciation, intonation, and pacing.


AP examIn conclusion, Instructional Planning Reports can help AP teachers get their bearings in planning instruction for the new school year. In addition, it is absolutely critical that students are given frequent opportunities to interpret culturally significant authentic texts of all kinds within the AP themes and various contexts. Remember to include charts, graphs, tables, and infographics, as well as “traditional” written and audio text types. Students also need frequent opportunities to react to these texts through writing and speaking, both in interpersonal and presentational contexts.


Planning for effective instruction takes a lot of time, especially when developing lessons based on authentic resources. A good AP textbook can support teachers and save time, providing fully fleshed out, scaffolded lessons grounded in authentic resources/texts. Such lessons provide students with meaningful opportunities to build proficiency and interculturality through effective communication tools. The same is true for AP exam preparation work texts, where students will find a plethora of AP task practice—set up just like the exam in May—all prepared and ready for them, saving teachers valuable time and offering a platform for meaningful feedback as well. Teachers can also get pedagogical support through AP Classroom, College Board Online AP Communities, and the many social networking sites dedicated to AP Languages and Cultures, such as the Teaching AP Spanish with Temas Facebook group.


Whatever materials you use, engage students daily in the key elements of AP language learning and communication (themes, contexts, cultural perspectives, skills, AP tasks, etc.). Offer students substantive feedback and guidance, followed by multiple opportunities to show how they have applied learning experiences to improve and move up the proficiency scale in all modes as they prepare for success in May!



By Parthena Draggett


Also read:

Mid-Year Reflection and Goal Setting for AP® World Language and Culture Exams
Pre-AP® Support in Introductory Spanish Courses: Part One
Pre-AP® Support in Introductory Spanish Courses: Part Two
Pre-AP® Support in Introductory Spanish Courses: Part Three



AP® and Advanced Placement are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

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