Advanced Placement examinations have been implemented by the College Board in thousands of high schools across the nation since the mid 1950s as a way to allow for students to receive college credit during prior to their enrollment in an actual college or university. Since their introduction, Advanced Placement (AP) exams have grown immensely in popularity and diversity in terms of the amount of students taking these examinations and the number of subjects in which they are offered. In the years since their introduction, in high schools that offer them, AP courses have often been used as litmus tests by universities to determine which students at the schools would be the best suited to adapting to a rigorous college curriculum.
The most immediate benefit that comes to mind when enrolling in an AP class is the possibility of achieving college credit by doing well on the AP exam at the end of the year. The tests are graded on a one to five scale; traditionally, scores of three and higher would gain a student a credit for the exam, although in recent years more and more institutions will only accept a score of a four or a five. There are other benefits to enrolling in AP courses as well; for example, just being in an AP class and passing the class will benefit any potential applicants’ chances of being accepted by the University of their Choice greatly. Another, more immediate, benefit to enrolling in more advanced courses is that it gives more gifted students chances to connect with other such students as well being in an environment better suited to stimulating them intellectually.
The cost of taking an AP class and exam will often times be more than just taking a regular course for a couple of reasons. Firstly, each exam taken (with exceptions based on location) will cost eighty-seven dollars as of 2010. This fee, when compounded over several exams, can add up to a not inconsiderable amount. Another cost is the possible need to purchase supplemental materials, such as review books and practice examinations. These costs can add up to a somewhat sizable amount when taking multiple courses; despite this, very often the amount of that would be spent on taking the courses at an actual university would greatly outweigh the cost of spending eighty-seven dollars for an AP exam.
The course selection offered by the College Board is vast, ranging all aspects of a typical high school curriculum in addition to other elective courses. The full list of thirty-one courses can be found at the College Board’s website. Despite the many benefits of taking AP courses, they are not for everyone. Students who do not tend to excel in the certain subjects should take AP courses in them as it can lead to poor grades and unnecessary stress. There are also alternatives to the Advanced Placement Program; examples of this include the International Baccalaureate and taking courses at a local community college. Overall, the AP program has enough benefits and diversity of subject-matter to warrant for any college-bound student to look into it and find courses they would be interested in taking.