FAQs About AP Courses & Exams
Last updated August 17, 2023
Considering taking an Advanced Placement (AP) course in high school? Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about AP courses to help you make the best, most informed decision for you and your class schedule!
What are AP courses?
Advanced Placement (AP) courses, created and administered by The College Board, are college-level courses offered in most high schools. They are designed to be challenging and to give students a feel for what to expect academically when they begin college.
Who can take AP courses?
Any high school student can take an AP course if they have shown they can succeed in difficult classes; however, some high schools may require students to pass a placement exam to be able to enroll. Check in with an educator or counselor to learn more about enrollment requirements.
My school doesn't offer AP courses! What should I do?
Don't worry! There are many other great ways to challenge yourself and stand out academically. Read our guide on what to do if your school doesn't offer AP courses here.
What are the benefits of taking an AP course?
There are many benefits! Here are a few:
- Be challenged academically. AP courses are typically harder and more rigorous than other classes in high school and can give you a feel for how much time and work goes into college-level classes. This can help you feel more prepared to start college when the time comes.
- Receive college credit. If you take and pass the optional AP exam in May, you can earn college credit, which you can use to save time and money on college tuition in the future.
- Stand out to colleges. Experience with AP courses can go a long way on your college applications and student resume - it shows schools that you like to challenge yourself and can handle college-level work!
Do I need to pay to take an AP course?
While there’s usually no fee to take an AP course, there is a fee to take the AP exam.
What are AP exams? When do they take place?
AP exams are offered every May through The College Board; they measure how much you learned in the AP course(s) you took that school year. Learn more about the specifics of taking AP exams here, and learn more about test dates and registration deadlines here.
Do I have to take the AP exam?
Nope! AP exams are totally optional.
How much does the exam cost?
AP exams cost $97 per test. Some schools may pay for students to take the exam, so check in with your teacher or counselor to learn more.
Is there a fee waiver to take the exam?
While The College Board doesn’t offer fee waivers to take AP exams, they do offer a fee reduction of $35 to eligible students. Learn more about eligibility criteria to receive a fee waiver here.
Where do I register for my AP exam?
How are AP exams scored?
AP exams are scored from 1-5, with 5 being the highest score possible. A student’s total AP score is calculated based on their scores on the 2 main sections of the exam.
How do I submit my scores to the schools I’m applying to? Is there a fee?
The College Board gives each student taking an AP exam one free score send to the college of their choice. After that, there is a fee of $15 per report that you want to send to additional schools.
When are scores available?
Scores are usually sent to students in July, around 2 months after taking the exam.
Can I get college credit from taking an AP exam?
Yes! Many colleges award credit to students who score anywhere from a 3 to 5 on any AP exam; however, different schools will have different score requirements to receive credit. For example, many schools will accept scores of 3 and 4 to grant credit, while others will require a 5. When you’re applying to colleges, be sure to research their policies on accepting AP credit, or use College Board’s Credit Policy Search here.
Can I retake the exam?
Students can only take an AP exam once per year, so if you want to retake an exam, you will have to wait until the end of the following school year.
How can I do well in AP courses and exams?
AP courses and exams can be challenging and intimidating, especially if you’ve never taken them before. However, with the right preparation and study habits, you can set yourself up for success! Read our tips for succeeding in AP courses and exams here. You got this!
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