AP Exams,  college

AP Exams for College Credit -All You Need to Know

Advanced Placement (AP) exams offered by the College Board are an excellent way to prepare students for college and put them ahead of the curve.


AP exams in 38 subjects are offered each May at high schools across the country. Getting a good score can mean that the student is exempt from taking that course once in college.

Having AP exams on a college application also makes a student more competitive. Because they are standardized, AP exams demonstrate a commitment to education and advanced ability in a subject.

Here are some general guidelines and key information, on how to prepare for the AP program.

Using AP Exams for College Credit

Over 90 percent of colleges and universities across the nation offer credit for passing AP exams. These credits mean students can skip general education or introductory courses. Some students even take enough AP classes to enter university at the sophomore level.

AP policies vary per institution. Some universities will accept all exams. Others have credit limits or will not accept AP for courses required in a particular major. Before registering for exams, it is beneficial to check the AP credit policies of the universities your student is interested in attending.

The Benefit of AP Exams

  • The main benefit of taking AP exams is the potential to get college credit. This will save both time and money. Many students take a range of AP exams to reduce the number of general education course they have to take in college. This gives them the ability to focus more on their major courses.
  • These units will also help reduce the cost of going to college as students with a lot of AP credits can often graduate a semester or even a year earlier than their peers.
  • AP exams also add a level of competitiveness to a college application. Because of the academic rigor of the AP program, passing scores shows dedication to education.

Statistics also show that students who take AP exams are generally better prepared for college. AP classes are rigorous but are an excellent introduction to what will be required in college. Thus, they are excellent for preparing students for higher education.

The College Board also grants a range of AP awards to exceptional students. Any student who passes at least three AP exams receives the AP Scholar awards. An average score of 3.25 on four or more exams results in an AP Scholar with Honors award. An average of 3.5 on five or more exams is awarded an AP Scholar with Distinction. These awards help a student stand out when applying to college.

What is a Good AP Exam Score?

AP exams are scored on a scale of 1-5, with 3 being a passing score at most institutions. Each exam is graded on a unique curve so a 3 does not necessarily translate to a set percentage score.

While a 3 is commonly considered a pass, each institution has its own acceptance policy. For example, UCLA will waive introductory chemistry for a score of 3 but will waive general chemistry for a score of 4 or 5. Some institutions will also only accept a 4 or 5 for classes in a student’s major.

Ultimately, it is best to aim for a score of 4 or 5 on an AP exam. This will increase the chances that it will be accepted for credit. Higher scores also make a student more competitive for acceptance.

The AP Exam Process

AP exams are offered in May. Each AP exam takes around 3 hours to complete and most involve more than one section. Exams are generally offered at the student’s high school. All exams nationwide for a subject will be offered on the same date and time.

Each exam will have at least two sections, a multiple choice and a free response section. Language exams will also have a spoken section. Exam scores are generally available by mid-July and can be sent directly to universities at the student’s request. To know how to better prepare for an Ap exam read our related blog.

If a student qualifies for an AP Scholar award, these will also be given when scores are released.

How to Prepare for AP Exams

The vast majority of students taking AP exams have taken the associated course at their high school. Teachers for these courses understand the exam and know how to prepare students.

With that in mind, students will also have to devote a lot of time to prepare for the exam outside of school. Successful students start early, often over two months before the exam.

One of the most impactful ways to prepare is to take practice exams. Most students do not have experience with taking a three-hour exam like the AP exam. Consequently, they may struggle with paying attention for the entire exam if they have not adequately practiced. After all, no one would run a marathon without practice.

AP exams also cover a wide range of information, often summarizing two semesters of a college course into one exam. Many students rely on private tutoring to help them reinforce all of the information they need to know.

Here at Stutorialz, we are experts at preparing for AP exams. Our completely customized learning plans for math and science will ensure your student will be well prepared for the exam come May.

AP exams can play a vital role in preparing a student for college. They provide an academic challenge that will give a student college credit and help them stand out in the competitive application process. Be sure to include them in your student’s success plan.

Stutorialz - A Virtual Tutoring Centre for High school Math and Sciences.

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