AP Courses, College Credits, and YOU

Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams are an essential component of the college application. Course work and successful completion of the exam demonstrates the student’s ability to maneuver challenge classes and allows them to stand out from other applicants. These exams can put your child on the fast track to a college degree, giving him or her the chance to earn college credit while still in high school.

What are the AP Exams?

The AP exams are college level tests administered by The College Board (makers of the SAT). Student may take the exam in one or more subjects. A comprehensive list of subjects and exam dates are available at collegeboard.com.

More than 90 percent of four-year colleges in the United States offer credits, advanced placement, or both based on AP exam scores. Earning credits can help students graduate in four years and have more time to pursue activities like study abroad. For the most reliable information, check with the admissions department at each school your child is considering.

Students typically take AP exams in May and receive their scores in July. This year the schedule is a little different; review the AP exam calendar for more information.

A student does not need to be enrolled in an AP class to take the exam, although research by The College Board shows that students who take the courses do better on the exams.

Should my child take an AP Course or exam?

According to research by The College Board, 85% of selective colleges and universities report that a student’s AP experience favorably impacts admissions decisions.

The College Board also reports that students who take AP courses do better in college than those who don’t. Because they are more challenging and require more work than regular high school classes, AP courses help students prepare for the rigors of college coursework. 

To take an AP course, a student should have exceptional reading and writing skills and high levels of motivation and discipline. If your teen is struggling in a subject, an AP course in that subject is probably not a good idea.

How does my child register for a course or exam?

If their schools offer an AP program, students can register for AP courses in their regular class-selection process. If your child’s school does not offer an AP program, the principal or guidance counselor should know where the courses are offered. High schools are not required to offer AP courses, so many partner with schools that do (your student’s school may have AP-level courses with designations such as “honors” or “college prep”).

To register for the test, your child should speak to his or her AP teacher or guidance counselor. Students who are homeschooled or whose schools do not have an AP program must contact The College Board’s AP services directly.

The fee for each exam is $95, though students with financial need may qualify for a reduction. Each exam must be ordered and paid for separately.

How are the exams scored?

Each AP test has two sections—multiple choice and free response. The first is graded by a computer; the second, by consulting college professors and AP teachers. The total scores create a composite score.

Composite scores are turned into final scores through a statistical process of comparison to scores on previous years’ tests. A full explanation of scoring is available at  collegeboard.com.

Final scores are on a five-point scale. The highest score a student can receive is a 5 (extremely well-qualified); the lowest is a 1 (no recommendation).

What happens to the scores?

Students can view their AP scores online at apscore.org starting in July of the year that exams were administered. The online score report will include all of a student’s AP scores if he or she has tested in the last four years.

Students who do well (3 or higher) on the exams are eligible for one or more AP Scholar awards, a designation that is attached to scores when they are sent to colleges.

Students who do not do well on the exams may withhold scores from the schools they have designated. They may also cancel scores from their records completely.

What should my child do to get ready for the exam?

The College Board offers sample free-response questions for students who want to hone their writing and problem-solving skills before the test.

Kyo Standard offers exam prep for students who are looking to use a high AP test score to test out of an introductory course at college or test into a selective major.

Click on this link to see our AP Course Schedules and to learn more about our AP program.

As always, our expert Enrollment Team is here to help if you have any questions about the AP exams or about standardized testing in general.


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