Advanced Placement (AP) courses are similar to Honors courses in that the material is more challenging than regular classes. AP classes are designed to replace or at least replicate college-level courses so they involve much more independent study on the part of the student. Also, students are usually expected to purchase their own textbooks. These courses are usually fast-paced, but homework plays a less important role than do papers and exams, much like a college setting. To reflect the increased difficulty of AP course, UCs offer an extra grade point. This means if a student earns an A in the class, then he will receive 5.0 grade points instead of 4.0 and so on.


AP Exams

During the first two weeks of May, about one million students across the nation take their AP exams. Each exam costs $90 to take, although financial aid in available for those who qualify. It seems like a hefty price, but is actually considerable less expensive than what a student would pay for an equivalent course at a university. Some schools require that students who take an AP class, take the corresponding exam, whereas at other schools, the exams are entirely optional and voluntary, but usually recommended. Nearly all AP exams involve a multiple choice section followed by a free-response section and each exams lasts between 2 and 3 hours. The exams are given scores between 1 and 5. Scores 3 and higher are considered passing scores.

Scores are available by phone on July 1st for a fee. When taking the exams, the student will have the opportunity to send their scores to colleges. This option is mainly for seniors who, by May, should know what university they will be attending in the fall. Younger students can choose to send their scores also, but without knowing what college they will be attending, it usually does not make sense to do so. If a student does not send their scores to the school that they will be attending during the administration of the test, the student must visit the College Board website to send their scores again for a small fee.


Preparing for AP Exams

The most difficult aspect of the exams is the breadth and depth of the information tested on the exam. The exam will cover material learned over the course of the entire year and so it is extremely important for students to do in-depth review. Some instructors will offer review sessions, whereas other instructors will expect students to study for themselves. Many students find that the AP review books that they can purchase from a bookstore or from the internet are quite helpful. Some students even opt for private tutoring or test effective way to prepare for the exam is to study the related textbook(s) and perhaps purchases a review book. However, not all students will be sufficiently motivated to adhere to a study schedule during a time that is already busy for most students, especially for students who are taking multiple exams. The scores are mailed in early July.


AP Credit

Individual universities have their own standards for which scores must be obtained in order for a student to receive class credit. For some subjects, 4s or higher or even only 5s will be accepted for credit. In certain subjects, or at certain colleges, no AP credit will be accepted at all. Students, especially high school seniors, should look into the AP credit policies of their prospective schools. However, even if the school does not accept AP credit for a specific class, students should still consider taking the test for placement purposes. Even if it may not give students any units, but it will allow them to skip through introductory classes to more advanced classes. For example, a student may be able to pass into upper-level Chemistry classes, after receiving a 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry exam.


AP Scholar

Who becomes a State Scholar is decided by the test scores, College Board will differentiate students’ testing categories and grades into the following:

1) AP Scholar Award is awarded to students with a score of 3 and above on at least 3 AP exams.

2) AP Scholar with Honors Award is awarded to students with a score of 3 and above. 3) AP Scholar with Distinctive Award is awarded with a score of 2 and above on at least 5 AP exams and maintain an average of 3.5 and above.

4) AP State Scholar is a awarded to one male and female high school students from each state with highest average scores and the amount of AP exams passed with a 3 and above.

5) National AP Scholar is awarded with a score of 4 and above on at least 8 AP exams and maintain an average of 4.

6) Dept. of Defense for Education Activity Scholar is awarded to one male and female high school students from each state with highest average scores and the amount of AP exams participated.

7) AP International Scholar is awarded to students outside of United States and Canada with the highest average and numbers of exams taken.

AP courses are provided to high school students with challenging materials. It’s designed to examine whether students are capable of taking college courses in the future.



Other than a student’s GPA and SAT scores, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation, AP and IB class scores are also very important when applying for college. For example, there were a total of 1,464,254 students who took the AP examinations in 2007, which if compared to the year before of only 1,339,282 students, is an approximate 9% increase. Because of the apparent increase in participation of students taking the test, participation in these tests is a necessary part of the college application process. The benefits of taking AP courses are not only a higher GPA, but b better foundation in the subject in preparation for college courses. By doing so, the students are less likely to fail courses in college, which save time and money. Furthermore, they will learn how to study effectively which will be very beneficial for them in the future.