Want to graduate college sooner with less debt? Take AP tests. 

AP classes and tests can be a great way to prepare for college and increase your chances of graduating with minimal debt. 

What are AP tests? 

Advanced Placement (AP) programs allow students to bypass basic college courses and are recognized by colleges as evidence of successfully completing college-level courses. Many U.S. high schools offer AP courses. Students can choose to take AP exams for these courses, usually offered in the first two weeks of May. With a score of 4 or 5, students can receive college credit (some schools grant credit for a score of 3).

Students achieving qualifying scores often may advance past introductory courses once in college. AP also prepares students for the challenge of college classes and allows a student’s college application to stand out because of this difficult high school coursework.

Most colleges offer credit for higher AP test scores. AP credits can give you the upper hand in college, allowing you to graduate early or even just register for classes earlier.

What AP courses are offered? 

The College Board offers 38 AP courses, including eight in world languages, and the AP Capstone Diploma Program. However, the courses offered at your school might vary. Talk to your counselor or AP coordinator to learn more about options to take AP tests at your school.

AP Course List

This tool from The College Board shows which colleges offer credit or advanced placement for specific scores. Be sure to communicate with the colleges you are interested in to see how they handle AP scores.

How do you take AP courses?

Students may take an AP test even if they have not taken the corresponding AP  course. Schools and parents may encourage advanced students to consider this option, using an AP Prep book to prepare for that test.

Though most students take AP classes at their home high school, AP courses are also offered online through approved providers and homeschool providers.

How much do AP tests cost?

Each AP test for 2021-22 costs $96, although fee reductions are available. High schools may add a charge to pay for test supervisors and/or testing room rentals. Based on your state, other funds may also be available to help cover costs. Talk to your school to see what resources may exist. Submit payment for these costs through your school, not online. If you choose not to take a test after registering, cancellation fees may apply.

How do you take AP tests?

Tests are offered at specific dates and times for each subject, beginning at either 8 a.m. or 12 p.m. School AP coordinators can work with students who have exams scheduled for the same time, with alternate late-testing dates scheduled by the College Board. The College Board website is your best resource to stay up-to-date on any changes. 

What else should you know about AP tests and credits?

  • AP courses are a great way to prepare for college, increasing your chances of graduating college with minimal debt! If you can, take advantage of these courses and tests to earn college credit.
  • May can be a busy time of year for academics and activities. Especially if taking multiple AP courses, you may need to prioritize which AP tests you take. Focused study efforts on one or two tests to earn high scores might provide better results than earning lower scores on multiple tests.
  • While your desired colleges may accept your AP course for credit, the course might not count towards requirements for your desired major. In this situation, you might choose to take the AP course but not pay to take the test.
  • If a student enters a college or university with total credit hours (earned through AP, IB, dual enrollment, early college, or CLEP exams) above freshman status, they might become ineligible for freshman scholarships. Check with the financial aid offices for your prospective colleges before sending your scores. Timing may matter.

Have other questions about choosing courses in high school or college applications? Learn more about our College Admissions Counseling.

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