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Why You Should Take an AP Test in High School


Thinking of taking an AP test or two during high school? You aren’t alone. More students than ever are choosing to take AP classes and exams to get college credit while still in high school. There are a few reasons for this increasingly common trend.

What Do AP Scores Mean?

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the College Board’s research shows a growing number of students taking AP exams. In fact, the number of students who took at least one AP test has more than doubled since 2001. In addition, AP scores have increased over the years.

The AP test is scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best score possible. In most cases, if you get at least a 3 on an AP test, you will get college credit for the course. A 2 means you might be qualified for college credit, but in reality, hardly any college accepts this score when offering credit. Not surprisingly, a score of 1 will not get you any credit for the AP test.

According to the College Board, the number of points you need for each score changes each year. It also changes from one test subject to another, so it is difficult to accurately compare AP scores from different tests.

In addition, each college accepts different AP scores, so while a 3 may be acceptable for college credit at one school, you may need a 4 or even a 5 elsewhere. This is why you should look at the requirements of the colleges you are interested in before taking an AP test.

Why Take Advanced Placement Courses and Tests?

The main point of taking an AP test is to get college credit while still in high school. Considering how expensive college can be these days, it makes sense to get some credits completed without having to pay full price for each one like you would have to once you have enrolled.

Even if you get a scholarship and are therefore not too worried about the cost of tuition, it is nice to have a few classes out of the way before you get to college. This way, you can get your basic requirements finished and either graduate early or take fewer credit hours each semester.

For example, I took the Spanish AP test and received a 4. This allowed me to enroll in a 300-level class during my freshman year of college, meaning that I was essentially two years ahead in Spanish. I decided to minor in this language just because I had so many credits already, which allowed me to complete my minor by my junior year.

Another reason to take at least one AP exam, or at least the class, is that you will feel more prepared for college. I took a total of four AP classes in high school, so when I got to college, I was used to the heavy workload. While many of my classmates in college dropped like flies freshman year due to the sudden change, I didn’t notice much of a difference from my AP classes in high school.

Even if you are not ready to think about college yet, you can benefit from taking AP classes. This is because many schools offer a weighted GPA when you take an AP or honors course. The result is that a B in an advanced class is treated the same as an A in a regular course, so you can give your GPA a boost.

In general, I found it was worth my time and effort to take AP classes in high school, and apparently more students than ever agree with that sentiment. A final benefit that not everyone is aware of is the AP Scholar Award you can get when you get at least a 3 on three or more AP exams. After all, it is always nice to get recognition for sitting through more than one AP test in high school!



2 Responses to “Why You Should Take an AP Test in High School”

  1. Erik Says:

    Taking APs in high school can be a huge advantage. Especially with the rising prices of college, coming in with as many credits as possible can end up saving you a lot of money.

  2. Karen Girard Says:

    Hi – I just wrote an blog post on the same topic and would love it if you would weigh in on my page as well! Sounds like AP was a great choice for you. My research shows that many post-secondaries don’t give you GPA for your AP exam, so I always recommend that students check with AP advisors at the places they are applying to, to learn how it will be used.

    Check out my side of this and let me know what you think… My students and parents would love to hear from all sides so they can make the right choice for them! http://www.karengirard.com/2012/03/why-take-an-ap-course-in-high-school/

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