All About Advanced Placement Courses and Exams
What's the Deal?
The Advanced Placement Program -- or A.P., as it's commonly known -- refers to A.P. courses taken at the high-school level (e.g., A.P. Calculus) or A.P. exams for college credit (e.g., A.P. English Exam)
A.P. courses are offered in many high schools. They follow a rigorous, college-level curriculum, as established by the Advanced Placement Program.
A.P. exams are given each spring at scheduled times during the regular school day.
A.P. Courses versus A.P. Exams
Let's take a look at A.P. courses first. High schools may offer a number of Advanced Placement classes, but your school district determines which subjects your school offers.
A.P. classes are designed to give high-school students the opportunity to take a college-level course. At many high schools, A.P. courses are worth more credit, because students are challenging themselves with demanding coursework. Currently there are 32 A.P. courses in 19 subjects!
Why should you take an A.P. course? Here are just a few of the potential benefits:
- You expose yourself to more interesting and challenging courses.
- You can gain new interests or pursue a favorite subject in more depth.
- You get a head start on college classes.
- You earn more high-school credit, because A.P. courses are more difficult.
- You get a "feel" for college-level classes.
- You develop the skills and study habits you'll need to succeed in college.
- You improve your chances of being accepted by a selective college, or of earning an academic scholarship. Admissions officers like to see high-school transcripts with A.P. courses. Scoring a passing grade on an A.P. exam will only strengthen your application.
- You can save money on college tuition by placing out of intro courses and gaining credits toward your degree. This could mean finishing in less than four years.
If I take an A.P. class, do I have to take the A.P. exam?
Some high schools require that students taking A.P. courses also take the A.P. exam. Some schools will even pay the $76 fee. Other schools make the test optional.
How is the A.P. exam scored?
The score on an A.P. exam is based on a "weighted" combination of the multiple-choice and the open-response sections of the exam. The final grade and its designations are as follows:
5 - Extremely well qualified
4 - Well qualified
3 - Qualified
2 - Possibly qualified
1 - No recommendation
Generally, a minimum score of 3 is necessary for college credit; however, each college determines what it considers a passing score. Presently, more than 90 percent of U.S. colleges grant incoming students credit and/or placement for qualifying scores on A.P. exams.
When will I receive my scores?
In early July, your scores will be mailed to you, to your high school, and to the colleges of your choice.
Should I take an A.P. class?
A.P. courses aren't for everyone. Check with your school counselor and your teachers to see whether they recommend that you take an A.P. course. While the A.P. Program places no restrictions on who may take an A.P. course, some high schools have prerequisites. For example, students may be required to have at least a "B" average in previous courses and/or have a teacher's recommendation in order to take an A.P. course.
More on: Preparing for College