Advanced Placement exams, also known as APs, are annual exams that you can take after completion of the associated course to receive college credits to ultimately save you time and money in college. Most students are encouraged to take APs during high school as a measure of course rigor for college applications and to prepare for college level courses in general.
This past week, AP scores were released on Wednesday, July 5, 2023. That said, here are the basics of what you should know if you have taken the exam or you are looking to challenge yourself for the upcoming school year.
What AP Courses are offered?
AP Courses incorporate the following subject areas: AP Capstone/Research, AP Arts, AP English, AP History, AP Social Sciences, AP Math, AP Computer Science, AP Sciences, AP Languages. For a specific list of course offerings, visit College Board here.
How Can I Enroll in AP Courses?
AP courses are offered through your high school. You will need to speak to your guidance counselor to see what offerings your school provides.
What if my school doesn't offer AP Courses or I am homeschooled?
Universities can not penalize you if your high school program does not offer particular courses. However, they still want to see you challenge yourself and maintain the best possible grade - that is, if you are seeking out highly college competitive programs such as the Ivy Leagues.
However, there are still ways to take AP courses if they are not offered at your school or if you are homeschooled:
Take an Online AP Course: some states offer online AP courses through virtual public high school offerings. If you are looking to see if it is an option for you, speak to your high school guidance counselor or whoever oversees your homeschooling requirements.
Take a Private AP Course or AP Tutoring: you are not required to take the course in order to sit for the exam. That said, the exam is designed to work in conjunction with the course since the goal is to replace college credits. You can hire an outside company, but understand it can be costly ranging from $250-1000 per hour for course instruction.
Self Study: You can find youtube videos and free resources to attempt to score well on your own. However, It can also be extremely difficult to stay motivated to complete the necessary tasks involved to succeed unless you are disciplined, so this isn't necessarily encouraged for every student.
How much do AP Exams cost?
According to the College Board website [who oversees AP exams], for 2023 general AP exams are $97 per exam at schools in the US, US territories, Canada, and all DoDEA schools. For internationals, they cost $127 per exam. Also, it is important to note AP Capstone and Research exams cost $145 per exam.
Do I have to pay for AP Exams?
If you are enrolled in a course at an accredited public or private high school, typically the school will pay for it with public tax payer money. However, you often must be enrolled in the course at the high school to qualify. Be sure to check the College Board website with the corresponding state you reside in to see what the latest information is for your situation.
If you are planning to take the AP exam and are not enrolled in the corresponding course, you must pay for each exam you are planning to take. However, if you qualify as a low-income student (receive free or reduced lunch, etc.) there are fee reduction waivers for the exams.
When do I take the AP Exam?
AP exam testing periods take place over a two-week period beginning in early May. If you take a semester course over summer or winter, you will need to wait until May to sit for the exam.
How long is the AP Exam?
AP exams last between 2-3 hours and are typically broken down into two sections, multiple choice and free response.
Are AP Exams offered digitally?
Currently, only 7 subject areas are offered digitally for 2023. Schools ultimately make the decision to administer AP exams either on computers or with traditional pencil and paper. Digital exams are offered in the same setting with a proctor in a classroom setting at the same time of traditional AP exams.
What happens if something unexpected happens and I can not take the scheduled AP Exam?
You will need to speak to whomever is coordinating your AP exam to see if they can make arrangements for you to take such at a later date. However, this is often quite difficult to do and you would need to provide evidence of whatever it is that caused you to miss the exam. Transportation issues or being late simply won't cut it.
What if two AP Exams I want to take are scheduled at the same time?
Speak to your coordinator and they will be able to make arrangements for you to sit for both exams. If they give you a difficult time, reach out to College Board directly.
When will I receive my AP results?
AP results are typically released sometime during the first week of July. As a result, you may find that some high school programs do not finalize course grades until after AP results are in - as some programs utilize AP exams as part of your course grade. That said, some course grades do not have bearing on AP results. You will want to check with the course instructor to verify how your final AP course grade will be determined and impacted if you do not pass your AP exam.
How many AP Courses can I take?
There is no limit on the amount of AP courses you can take. However, understand the rigor behind each course can be quite difficult because they are designed to be similar to that of college course offerings. Colleges typically do not want to see you enrolled in every possible AP offering if they offer every single one listed on the website. They do, however, want to see you enrolled in course areas you are interested in pursuing as potential career paths, passing those corresponding exams, and seeing you performed well in the overall course. Also, check with your high school to make sure they do not set limits on the number of AP exams they will pay for or cover to ensure you are not "out of pocket."
What is a "GOOD" AP Score?
AP scores range from 1-5, with 1 being the lowest. You can not score a 0 or score in half point increments, only in absolute values. Keep in mind that not all universities accept AP scores, so this is important to know when looking at college programs.
A five is the highest which often results in guaranteed exemption from a college level course, depending on the university. This implies you have a firm grasp of material and thorough understanding of the subject matter.
A four shows you performed quite well and understand the material but were not in the top pool of those who sat for the exam. You will likely receive some college credit depending on the university.
A three shows you have some comprehension of the material and you may receive some college credit depending on the university.
A one or two does not result in credit, as this implies to universities you did not grasp the material the way in which they were intending.
What happens if I fail my AP Exam? What happens if I don't pass my AP Exam?
If you do not pass your AP exam or "fail," you simply do not receive college credit for the course. However, you can still do well in the course and receive credit for having taken the course at school. AP courses are also weighed higher than traditional high school courses so they result in a GPA boost if you do well in the actual course.
Can I retake an AP Exam?
Yes, but you likely will have to pay and wait until the following year to sit for the exam again.
How do I submit my AP Scores to Universities?
Up through June 20th, you can select one recipient to submit your AP scores to for free. After this, you must pay a fee of $15 per report, which includes all of your AP exam scores you have taken. After June 20th, you must pay $15 per report to report your scores. You can do this through the College Board website. You can self report scores when you are applying but when you are accepted to a program and commit, they will request an official score report be sent. Always plan to submit 4s and 5s regardless of the program you are applying for.
What if I do not want Universities to see my AP Exam Scores?
You can request College Board to withhold your AP Exam scores, but you need to do so prior to when they are released. The deadline for this is by June 15th of the year in which you took the exam. Additionally, it costs $10 per score withheld. This does not permanently remove your score. You will not be able to see your score before you select to withhold your exam score. It is important to note that you can go back and make a written request to send your AP score to the University once it has been released. However, if you choose not to submit and have taken the course, universities will see this and assume you did not take the test or achieve a high score.
Can I Cancel my AP Exam Scores?
Yes, but you must do so before June 15th of the year you took the exam. Additionally, you will not be able to see what you received on your exam.
I am applying to Ivy Leagues & highly competitive public/private institutions and don't know what AP courses I should take.
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