Advanced Studies FAQs

Click here for a shortened version of the FAQs below. Livestream videos from our parent coffees are also available in MySAS portal here.

Singapore American School is committed to providing exceptional learning opportunities for the diverse needs and interests of our high school students. Beginning in 2012, SAS faculty and leadership conducted exhaustive research to ensure that our students are learning at the highest level possible, are prepared for college, and have mastered skills that will help them be successful in the current and future workforce. For the high school, this work resulted in a series of recommendations that were adopted in May 2014 as part of the school’s strategic plan. These recommendations were approved by the high school faculty, administration, superintendent, and board for implementation over the subsequent six years.

One of the specific adopted recommendations is introduction of advanced topic (AT) courses to supplement the current suite of rigorous courses at SAS. These AT courses give our high school students learning opportunities that are relevant, align to our desired student learning outcomes (DSLOs), and are recognized by colleges as a part of a rigorous and challenging course of study so they can successfully apply to some of the world’s most selective colleges.

Our research revealed that, while Advanced Placement (AP) courses are rigorous, some of these courses focus almost entirely on the acquisition of content knowledge, often at the expense of relevant, transferable skills and concepts. We found that many high schools are moving away from AP courses in favor of more relevant, interdisciplinary, project-based, yet equally rigorous AT courses. This shift allows high schools to offer courses that are unique to their institution and helps distinguish their students in the college application process.

And while some schools are eliminating AP courses entirely, we also recognize both the value of many Advanced Placement courses, especially as the College Board has rewritten a number of them, and the deep culture that SAS has regarding our AP curriculum. It is for this reason that our strategic plan calls for the implementation of SAS AT courses alongside high quality AP courses that have been vetted and approved by our vetting team of administration, counselors, teachers and admissions representatives. AT and AP together form our advanced studies offerings.

To ensure that our students are well served by our advanced studies strategy, the high school administration interviewed over one hundred college admissions officers. Those officers consistently supported the creation of AT courses at SAS. Many of these colleges also strongly recommended that we limit the number of AP courses our students could take. If students take fewer APs, they have more room in their schedules to pursue classes and extracurricular activities that allow them to develop their future-ready skills and demonstrate their specific interest or passion. The AP cap of seven courses will help our students to personalize their learning, and stand out in the college admission process.

Since 2014, the SAS high school faculty and leadership have been working on the development of new SAS course offerings that will include AT courses alongside our AP courses. This includes a rigorous course development and vetting process, course mapping, dozens of departmental meetings to determine what courses will be developed, and the rollout of courses over a four-year period of time.

The 2016–17 course catalog introduced five new AT courses available for students, and in 2017–18, five more were introduced. Many AP courses are also available to students, while a few courses that are less relevant or effective have been designated for phasing out. With the SAS course offerings, all students are ensured a rigorous and relevant course of study, and increasingly that course of study is customized for each student’s interests and also ensures that the skills developed align to SAS standards and desired student learning outcomes (DSLO).

We are excited to offer these advanced studies courses for our high school students. And while we believe that the courses offered will be exciting and interesting for our students, this is a change for our families, so we offer the following frequently asked questions (FAQ) to help guide you through any questions you may have. We also encourage you to bring your questions to your high school counselor. They will gladly help provide clarity and are eager to help any family as they plan a course of study with their child.

Questions about Advanced Placement and Advanced Topics

Questions related to Advanced Placement Credit Limit

Questions related to US College Admission

Questions related to College Admissions Outside the US

Questions about GPA Weighting

Questions related to Academic and Course Planning

Questions related to Catalyst and AP Capstone

General Questions about the Program Planning Guide

Questions related to Evaluating the Advanced Studies Program