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AP Spanish Language and Culture

A redesigned AP Spanish Language and Culture course and exam launched in fall 2013. The new course is comparable to fourth semester (or the equivalent) college courses in Spanish. This revision to the course and exam is a reflection of our commitment to continually enhance AP’s alignment with current best practices in college-level learning. Learn more about the AP course and exam redesign.

How were the new course and exam created and validated?

The new Spanish Language and Culture course and exam were developed by a committee of college Spanish faculty and AP teachers, using the Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century as a foundation. The curriculum also incorporates the results of a study of nearly 250 parallel college course curricula.

What are the goals of the new course and exam?

  • Align with national standards. The revisions integrate the instructional goals — communications, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities — outlined in the Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century.
  • Focus on communication. Students demonstrate proficiency in the three modes of communication: interpersonal, interpretive and presentational.
  • Encourage cultural awareness. Students develop an awareness and appreciation of aspects of Spanish-speaking cultures, including products (tools, books, music, laws, conventions and institutions); practices (patterns of social interactions); and perspectives (values, attitudes and assumptions).
  • Incorporate a thematic approach. A thematic structure enables students to study a variety of concepts in meaningful and engaging contexts. Students are motivated to explore the various themes through essential questions that drive inquiry and curiosity.
  • Provide clear learning objectives. The learning objectives describe the knowledge and skills students need to achieve college-level language proficiency.

What is covered by the new course and exam?

Review the full course and exam description.


The AP Spanish Language and Culture course takes a holistic approach to language proficiency and recognizes the complex interrelatedness of comprehension and comprehensibility, vocabulary usage, language control, communication strategies and cultural awareness. Students learn language structures in context and use them to convey meaning. The course strives to promote fluency and accuracy and to engage students in an exploration of culture in both contemporary and historical contexts. In order to best facilitate the study of language and culture, the course is taught in Spanish.

The course is structured around six themes, which create a meaningful context from which to explore a variety of language concepts:

Language Thematic

The course’s six learning objectives are built upon the three modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive and presentational):

  1. The student engages in spoken interpersonal communications.
  2. The student engages in written interpersonal communications.
  3. The student synthesizes information from a variety of authentic audio, visual, and audiovisual resources.
  4. The student synthesizes information from a variety of authentic written and print resources.
  5. The student plans, produces, and presents spoken presentational communications.
  6. The student plans and produces written presentational communications.


Section Question Types and Distribution Timing
Multiple choice

65 questions

Part A – Print texts (30 questions)
Students respond to questions based on a variety of authentic print materials, including:

  • Journalistic texts
  • Literary texts
  • Announcements
  • Advertisements
  • Letters
  • Maps
  • Tables


Part B - Print and audio texts (35 questions)
Students respond to a variety of authentic audio texts including:

  • Interviews
  • Podcasts
  • Public service announcements
  • Conversations
  • Brief presentations

For some questions, audio texts may be paired with print materials.


95 minutes

Interpersonal Writing: Email reply (15 minutes)
Students read and respond to an email message.

Presentational Writing: Persuasive essay (55 minutes: 15 minutes to examine texts and 40 minutes to write)
Students examine three authentic texts (article, table or graphic, audio text), then have 40 minutes to organize and write a persuasive essay in response to a prompt. In their essays they must present and defend their own viewpoint using information from all three sources.

Interpersonal Speaking: Simulated conversation (2 minutes 40 seconds: 1 minute to preview and 20 seconds each for five prompts)
Students have one minute to preview a conversation, including an outline of each turn in the conversation, and then respond to five prompts.

Presentational Speaking: Cultural comparison (6 minutes: 4 minutes to prepare and 2 minutes to present)
Students respond to a prompt by giving a presentation in which they compare cultural features of their own community to those found in an area of the Spanish-speaking world with which they are familiar.

80 minutes

AP Spanish Language and Culture Development Committee

Committee Co-Chairs

Fernando Rubio, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
Maritza Sloan, Ladue Horton Watkins High School, St. Louis, Missouri

Committee Members

Scott M. Alvord, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Julio Cabral, Hueneme High School, Oxnard, California
Kyra Kietrys, Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina
Lourdes Y. Von Vogt, Lincoln Academy, Newcastle, Maine

College Board Advisor

Maria Cabra, Ronald Reagan/Doral SHS; Miami-Dade County Public School, Doral, Florida

Chief Reader

Jeffrey Reeder, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California