The Evolution of Foreign Language AP Exam Candidates: A 36-Year Descriptive Study

Alan V. Brown, Gregory L. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Using a data set exclusively prepared for and licensed to them by the College Board, the authors examined the growth of the Advanced Placement program in foreign languages and overall trends in regard to the number of candidates who sat for the foreign language exams, their gender, their scores, and their ethnicity over the 36-year period covering 1979 to 2014. Results indicated that while the number of candidates for all exams grew, the Spanish Language and Culture exam demonstrated exponential growth unparalleled by any other exam. While scores have varied based on the iteration of the exam, they have continued to improve overall. Females continued to make up the majority of foreign language test takers in every state and outperformed males on average. Data also revealed that white candidates were losing ground to ethnic and racial minority test takers overall, but particularly in the case of the Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese examinees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-251
Number of pages17
JournalForeign Language Annals
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages


  • Advanced Placement
  • assessment
  • foreign language
  • high school

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language


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