AP (Advanced Placement) Tests are administered by College Board and are taken in May at the end of an yearlong AP course. AP Tests have 2 sections: a multiple choice section and a free response section that usually consists of several short answer essays or calculations.


Scores for the AP Tests range from 1 to 5, with 5 as the highest score possible.

5 = extremely well qualified
4 = well qualified
3 = qualified
2 = possibly qualified
1 = no recommendation

Most colleges give some kind of class credit (either to fulfill a prerequisite course or as elective credit) for scores that are at least a 3. However, because each college has a different policy for AP credit, search for the AP credit policy for the schools that you are interested in: https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/creditandplacement/search-credit-policies

AP scores can also be used to aid in placement in a college course, such as a college math, chemistry, or language class.

How are AP scores calculated?

Your score for each AP exam that you take is calculated by adding the weighted scores from each of the 2 sections. The multiple choice section is scored by using a computer to scan your answers, similar to the scantron machine that is used to score scantron exams in school. Your multiple choice score on the AP exam is the total number of correct answers on the multiple choice section.

total number of correct answers = multiple choice score

The free response section is scored by selected college professors and AP teachers during an annual AP Reading (grading camp) that is held in June.

The multiple choice score and the free response scores are then combined to form a composite score, which are then statistically converted into a 5-point scale, with 5 being the highest score possible on the AP exam.

AP Subjects/Courses

There are more than 30 AP subjects/courses:

AP Capstone: AP Research and AP Seminar

Arts: AP Art History, AP Music Theory, AP Studio Art: 2-D Design, AP Studio Art: 3-D Design, and AP Studio Art: Drawing

English: AP English Language and Composition and AP English Literature and Composition

History & Social Science: AP Comparative Government and Politics, AP European History, AP Human Geography, AP Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, AP Psychology, AP United States Government and Politics, AP United States History, and AP World History

Math & Computer Science: AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Computer Science A, AP Computer Science Principles, and AP Statistics

Sciences: AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, AP Physics C: Mechanics, AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based, and AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based

World Languages & Cultures: AP Chinese Language and Culture, AP French Language and Culture, AP German Language and Culture, AP Italian Language and Culture, AP Japanese Language and Culture, AP Latin, AP Spanish Language and Culture, and AP Spanish Literature and Culture

For more information about each subject/course, go to: https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/apcourse

Most importantly, ask your high school counselor and teachers which AP courses are offered at your school, how to sign up for these AP courses, any prerequisites that must be met, and advice or anything that you should know before taking a particular AP course at your school.

AP Timeline

AP Tests are usually offered during the first two full weeks of May. The test dates for 2018 are from May 7 – May 11 and May 14 – May 18. Some tests are in the morning, and other tests are in the afternoon. They typically last for 2 to 3 hours.

For more information about the AP Timeline and Scheduled Dates for the May 2018 AP Exams, go to: https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/takingtheexam/ap-calendar


Registration for AP Tests is usually done by the AP coordinator at your school. If you are taking an AP course, your teacher, counselor, or AP coordinator will notify you about exam scheduling and fees. The fee for each AP exam is $94, but if you are taking the AP Seminar, AP Research, and/or AP Computer Science tests, your fee may be higher. For more information about fees and possible fee reductions, go to: https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/takingtheexam/exam-fees and for more information about registration, especially if you are a home-schooled student or your school does not participate in AP: https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/takingtheexam/registering-for-exams

Benefits of AP

So why take an AP course and/or an AP exam?

Because there are many benefits! Here are some of them:

  • Higher GPA calculation: Because AP courses are advanced courses, your grade in the course is on a 5.0 scale rather than the typical 4.0 scale. If you receive an A, 5.0 points will go towards calculating your GPA, and if you receive a B, 4.0 points will go towards calculating your GPA. Therefore, even though you received a B in an AP class, it will be calculated as if you received an A in a regular level class. Those extra points make a difference when calculating your GPA for college admissions!
  • AP Scholar Awards: The AP program awards students who receive scores of 3 or 4 in a certain number of AP exams. These awards can be used on your college applications, scholarship applications, and resumes. So make sure to do well on those AP exams! For more information about AP Scholar Awards, including the type of awards and the criteria for each award, go to: https://apscore.collegeboard.org/scores/ap-awards/ap-scholar-awards
  • College admissions: Colleges look favorably at students who took many AP courses throughout their years in high school, especially if you were able to receive an AP Scholar Award. If you can, the more AP classes you take, the better! However, make sure that you can handle the advanced class load. Even if you took 5 AP classes in one year, colleges do not look at your application favorably if you received C’s and D’s in all of those AP classes! Aim for A’s and B’s in your AP classes.
  • College credit and placement: As mentioned before, your score on your AP exam may allow you to receive class credit and even place out of a required class! Even if all you get is elective credit, those elective credits units add up and allow you to register for classes earlier than others in your class. You may have sophomore class standing during your freshman year. If you plan on attending a large university, those elective credits may make a difference between being able to register for a class and not being able to register for a class that filled up fast!
  • Finding your major or area of interest: Many AP subjects relate to a college major or area that you may be interested in. How do you know what to major in college or what your future career might look like without some exposure? Because AP courses are college-level courses, taking AP classes will give you some exposure to a college-level course and may even pique your interest in a certain field or area of study. Pay attention to your interest in an AP course or your ability to understand the material well because that could be your future!

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