Have you ever considered taking an Advanced Placement® (AP®) course or exam but don’t know what the benefits are? If you’re up for the challenge, you could find yourself saving time and money on college all while making yourself an ideal applicant to your top college choice! Through the AP® Program, you can take college-level courses and exams while still in high school—giving you a glimpse into what it takes to study at the college level as well as the chance to earn college credit before even graduating high school.
Choose from a variety of subjects, including arts, sciences, English, history, social science, math, computer science, and world languages and cultures. Depending on the subjects you choose, you’ll either take an exam or submit a portfolio at the end of your course, both of which are scored using a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.
What are the benefits?
Here’s a breakdown of what you can gain by taking advantage of the AP® Program:
- Earn college credit: If you score a 3 or higher, you may be eligible to earn college credit, which can save you time and money in college—and maybe even help you graduate college a little early!
- Show colleges your motivation to succeed: AP® courses can demonstrate to an admissions officer that you’re prepared for college-level coursework and committed to academic success.
- Take on a challenge: Every student is different, but an AP® course will likely require more time and effort—which can provide insight into what to expect as a college student.
- Learn something new: Learn new skills and gain knowledge that will benefit you in college and in your career.
How do I get started?
Before enrolling in an AP® course, talk to your high school counselor. Some high schools require you to take an AP® exam after you finish the course, and others don’t. You’ll also want to research your top college picks and see whether they offer college credit for AP® exams, whether the subject and score you receive qualify you for college credit, and whether there is a cap on the number of credits you can earn.
Depending on your goals and your school’s requirement you can:
- Take the course and not the exam: You won’t be eligible to earn college credit, but the AP® class will appear on your transcript.
- Take the exam and not the course: It’s recommended that you take the AP® course before taking the exam, but it’s not always required. Depending on the school, state, and your score, you can earn college credit by taking just the exam.
- Take the course and the exam: As a student you’ll benefit from having the AP® course appear on your transcript, and you may be eligible for college credit.
What’s great about the AP® Program is that you have choices—and whether you choose to take the course, test, or both, you’ll benefit in some way when you apply for college. If you decide an AP® course is the right path for you, check out our college study tips which can help you stay up to speed with the course material. And if your current school does not offer AP® courses but you want the challenge and competitive edge when applying to college, you have options. Many schools, such as K12-powered schools offer a large selection of AP® courses from statistics and chemistry to English literature and world history.
For more resources and information on preparing for college, visit the K12 College Prep Center.