The Advanced Placement exams are administered by the College Board as part of a collegiate-level program for high school students aimed to prepare them for university curriculum. Outside of their actual academic nature, they’re essentially a way for high school seniors to get an idea of what a college course entails, and by doing so they can hit the ground running when it comes time to start their freshman semester particularly because they provide course credit.
Currently, each test costs $84 to take and they fund the AP program itself, and are administered in 37 courses across 20 subject areas (some schools elevate the price to pay for AP course instructors or other overhead costs). Exams in the same subject area, such as Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, can be taken for the price of one. Numerous states offer subsidized testing for students from families with limited incomes, and some schools will even cover the cost of the test if the student is enrolled in an AP course. It’s always a good idea to check with the school about these possibilities.
While many schools offer AP courses geared toward the exams, the test can be taken by any student, regardless of whether or not they were enrolled in a course. In this way, AP tests are available to any student, including home-schooled, transferred, or international students as well.
The exam is scored between 1 and 5, with 5 being the strongest score. The reason why AP courses are invaluable for college students is because often, particularly with schools with base requisites for students known as General Education’ or Core Curriculum’ classes the exam score will replace those particular courses. One AP test will replace one course requirement so depending on how many tests you take, and achieve the required level of proficiency in, you can find yourself with the option of starting your major early, taking a lighter semester than others, or even graduating earlier.
In addition, if your AP credit is accepted by the school, it will count as college credits meaning that since you’re entering college already with credit hours, and class registration times are based off credit hours, you’re able to get your pick of courses earlier than other students in your year.
Over 90% of the nation’s colleges and universities grant credit to AP scores (only a handful of private schools don’t) and while the minimum requisite score varies per school (it could be as low as 3, or as strict as a 5) these AP scores can save you time and money. Instead of sitting in a course that you’re taking only to fulfill a requirement (and might receive a lackluster grade in because of a lack of interest) you can take a course that you actually enjoy.
Or you may just choose to have a light semester – either way, AP exams save you the need to buy textbooks (which can cost upwards of $300) in a course you don’t care about.
While senioritis can certainly make it difficult to shoulder more classes than necessary in your last year of high school, think of it this way you can spend the free time/ saved cash to really enjoy your first year at college!