The Rising Importance of AP Exams

AP exams are only offered once-a-year each May, so the right prep is crucial to get a passing score. Understanding the importance of AP exams, and why they make a difference to colleges and universities, will help you achieve your AP goals.

What are AP Exams?

Advanced Placement classes, or AP classes as they are commonly known, are college-level classes designed for top-achieving high school students. While students don’t have to take an AP exam at the end of the year, the only way to get college credit for the course work is to take the exam for the AP subjects studied. There are currently 38 AP course subjects, and there’s a test for each one, except for those that are Capstone.

Why take an AP Exam?

Taking AP exams can be extremely helpful in your path to college. First, successfully passing your AP course can help you earn college credit early. This, in turn, means you can bypass standard intro courses, as well as save on tuition. Second, AP success stands out to college admissions officers by showing you are a focused student, prepared to study and work hard.

How are AP Exams scored?

AP exams are scored on a scale of 1-5:
5 = Extremely well qualified
4 = Well qualified
3 = Qualified
2 = Possibly qualified
1 = No recommendation
“Qualified” means that you have proven yourself capable of doing the work of an introductory-level world history college course. Some colleges and universities will give you credit for a score of 3 or higher, but it’s much safer to get a 4 or a 5. For specific rules regarding AP scores, check out each college’s websites or call their admissions offices. If you do well on the AP exam, you may even get to move straight into a more advanced class (which is where the term “advanced placement” comes from!)

How do I register for AP exams?

Many of the more popular exam subjects (English Language, English Literature, American History, Calculus AB, etc.) will be administered at your school. However, speak with your campus AP coordinator. Not all tests will be offered at every location.
Also, each test costs $94. It’s an investment; if you do well on the exam, the hope is that you’ll save money later on when the credits transfer (if you score high enough).
Visit the College Board site for more information on how to register for the AP Exams, and the test dates.
The bottom line: AP Exams are an opportunity, not an obstacle. Make prepping for the AP exams a part of your daily study routine, and you’ll be in great shape for the exams you’re taking.