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The low down on AP

If your student is thinking about adding AP® classes to their schedule, it’s worth considering their readiness in order to set them up for success. Their teachers and guidance counselors will likely play a role in recommending which, if any, AP® classes would be suitable, but there are also factors you can consider when evaluating your student’s schedule.

What are AP® classes

AP® (Advanced Placement) classes, offered by the College Board to schools across the nation, are designed to provide high school students with a rigorous learning experience that serves as excellent preparation for college. There are over 30 courses available in an array of subjects, introducing high schoolers to coursework, assessments, and instruction that requires deep critical thinking and encourages debate about concepts and theories.

Why should my student take them?

Apart from being excellent college prep, AP classes can earn students college credit before they set foot on campus. Earning a score of 4 or 5 (out of a possible 5) may allow students to bypass introductory courses and get them ahead of the pack. AP classes can also boost students’ GPAs. Some high schools weigh GPAs, so that a student who performs well in an AP class will be numerically recognized for their efforts. While an academic-level course is weighted on a GPA scale of 0 to 4, an AP course is weighted on a scale of 0-5. This has the potential to impact your student’s GPA significantly.

Now weigh the options

While strength of schedule is undoubtedly important to college admissions offices, so is academic performance and GPA. If a student’s schedule is loaded with AP classes, but those classes cause their GPA to suffer, it may be better to stick with traditional course offerings to keep their grades high. If your student’s school offers AP classes to juniors, it may be a good idea for them to try one before signing up for multiple in their senior year.

Prepare for the test

If your student is enrolled in AP classes, they’ll spend all year preparing for one thing: the AP Exam. Do you know what to expect? Let’s make sure.

There are 38 AP subjects, each with a corresponding exam

AP Exams are administered across the country in May

They’re standardized, and usually take 2-3 hours

The exams are typically composed of multiple choice and free-response questions

High enough scores can earn students college credit as they enter their first year

Scores are a reflection of how many questions are answered correctly—incorrect or blank bubbles do not count against the exam score

AP Exams are designed to reflect a college-level test, so it should come as no surprise that they can be difficult. Around 60-70% of students pass AP Exams, and their preparation is impacted by a number of factors.

One key player in your your student’s exam preparedness is their teacher. Though every AP teacher is teaching to a designated AP curriculum, the way they approach the material can differ. While some teachers take class time for studying and practice questions, others may hold students responsible for doing them at home, transferring some tasks to you and your student. 

Another major player is the student themselves: it’s helpful for students to be aware of their own study habits. If self-guided studying is a challenge for them, they should take advantage of AP study resources like assignments and practice tests. 

As you think about enrolling your student in AP classes, remember that they can have a huge positive impact on their GPA, but they can also be very challenging. If your student finds themselves struggling in one or multiple AP classes, Stutorialz has resources that can make complex material more manageable, like private tutors, practice tests, and more. Explore our resources here.

If a specific AP course that you’re interested in isn’t offered at your school, or if you’re homeschooled, there are opportunities available to you to participate in the AP Exam process. To learn more about the options available to you, follow these steps:

  • Go to “AP Courses” for a list of all AP Exams. 
  • Click on the course(s) you’re interested in to see a summary of that AP course and corresponding exam. 
  • Go to “Taking the Exam” to learn everything you need to know about signing up for and taking an AP Exam. 
  • Think about how far you’re willing to travel to take your AP Exams. 
  • Contact AP Services for Students by March 1 to get information about nearby AP coordinators. 888-225-5427 (toll free in U.S. and Canada) 212-632-1780 ; 
  • Contact those AP coordinators by March 15 to see if they are able to arrange testing for the specific AP Exam you’d like to take at a school in your area. 

Once you’re signed up for the AP Exam(s): 

  • Review the AP Calendar for important deadlines and exam dates. 
  • If you don’t already have an account, sign up for a College Board account to access helpful College Board resources. 
  • Read the Bulletin for AP Students and Parents. (You can also find the Bulletin on the “About the Exams” page.) 
  • On exam day, you’ll need to sign a statement saying that you understand and agree to the policies and procedures in the Bulletin. 

Review “Preparing for the Exams” to access and practice with last year’s released exam questions. For more study resources, go to your exam’s course page.

Before exam day, look at “What to Bring and What Not to Bring to the Exam Room” on page 5 of the Bulletin. 

Review any requirements from the AP coordinator about the school or location where you’ll be testing, including where and when to report. 

Other important things to know: 

AP Exam Fees  

Late-Testing Dates and Policies  

How to Get Started in AP  

On exam day, you’ll need 

A valid government- or school-issued photo ID  

Your Student Accommodation Letter if you have approval from the College Board to test with accommodations  

Your school code 

If you attend a school that doesn’t offer AP, use your own school’s code (not the code for the school where you’re testing). 

If you’re homeschooled, use the state or international homeschool/self-study code that you’ll get on the day of the exam. 

After the Exam:

In July, you can access your exam scores through your College Board account. 

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

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