Advanced Placement, or AP, exams are offered to any student who has taken or is currently taking an advanced placement course in high school. These exams are designed for students at the end of their high school AP course. They can then register and complete an AP exam to use as an additional factor in the admissions process at the educational institution of their choice. Many colleges grant credit for college courses if a student achieves a certain score on the AP exam.
A second benefit to the AP exam is that it offers students the ability to skip certain introductory courses if they obtain a particular score on the exam. The exam is scored on a level of 1-5 and students may use the exam to obtain college credit, waive college courses, and win non-monetary awards that may be reflected on college transcripts for admissions.
The following courses are offered in AP:
Arts: AP Art History, AP Music Theory, AP Studio Art: 2-D Design, AP Studio Art: 3-D Design, AP Studio Art: Drawing
English: AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition
History and Social Science: AP Comparative Government and Politics, AP European History, AP Human Geography, AP Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, AP Psychology, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP U.S. History, AP World History
Math and Computer Science: AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Computer Science A, AP Computer Science Principles, 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, AP Physics 2: Algebra –Based
World Languages and Cultures: AP Chinese, AP French, AP German, AP Italian, AP Japanese, AP Latin, AP Spanish, AP Spanish Literature and Culture
Each exam is offered in May, and although each individual exam will have its unique requirements, there are similarities. Most of the exams are 2-3 hours in length. The first portion usually contains a large number of multiple-choice questions. The second part of the exam is typically essay style, spoken answer, or another type of free response. Many of them are pencil and paper tests, but some of the language exams are computer-based and require listening to a CD. Art exams usually have a portfolio submission component as part of the grading criteria.
If a student has recently taken the PSAT exam, he or she can use the information obtained from the score reports to help determine which AP courses may be a good fit. If a student wants to take an AP course and it is not offered by their high school, the student could possibly take this course online. Each educational institution has its own policies in regards to this.
For further information about the various AP exams offered, as well as practice problems and frequently asked questions, please visit the official AP exam site.