If you’re wondering how to register for Advanced Placement (AP) exams, congratulations! You’ve already taken the first step towards building a solid high school academic profile. AP exams, whether taken after enrolling in the actual course or after self-studying, can give you a big leg up in terms of college applications and your readiness for college academics. By registering for the exam, you’re indicating that you’re committed to putting in the time and effort necessary to prepare for these rigorous assessments.

But don’t let us scare you off with all this talk of academic rigor. For some background about AP classes, check out the CollegeVine post What is an Advanced Placement (AP) Class? or Should I Take an AP/IB/Honors Class? Odds are, if you’re a solid student and you’re self-motivated, taking AP classes or even self-studying for an AP exam is a great option. These are all things you’ve probably considered during course registration early in the school year.

Now, fast forward to the spring semester. You’ve put in a prolonged effort by paying attention in class, seeking out mentors to help shape your studying, meeting with friends to review material and maybe even spending some of your own hard-earned money on supplemental study guides. Even if you didn’t enroll in the AP class, there’s no doubt that by this point in the school year, you’ve invested countless hours in preparing for the AP exam. There’s just one small detail left that matters more than any of that.

Registering for AP exams is not difficult, but it is hugely important. Do it correctly and all your hard work can lead to potentially receiving college credit or advanced standing. But miss a key deadline or overlook the process and you won’t even be allowed to enter the exam room, never mind receive a passing score. Read on for registration details outlining a number of unique scenarios below.

Are There Any Exams that I Cannot Register For?

While most AP exams are open to any student who wants to take them, there are a few specific scenarios that restrict AP exam registration. For one, you cannot take the AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC exams during the same year. You may take AP Calculus AB one year, and AP Calculus BC another year, though you don’t necessarily need to take both; AB is not a prerequisite for BC at all schools.

For AP Studio Arts, you may submit more than one studio arts portfolio, but each must be a different type of portfolio (Drawing, 2-D Design, or 3-D Design). Each portfolio you submit must contain only unique materials. No pieces of art may be included in more than one portfolio.

Finally, only enrolled students may submit assessment materials for the AP Capstone Diploma. This means that in order to receive an AP score for AP Seminar or AP Research, you will need to enroll in an approved AP class, and you may not self-study.

How Do I Register if I Took the AP Class Through My High School?

This is the most common and simplest scenario. If you enrolled in the AP class through your own high school, your teacher will most likely automatically register you for the exam. There may be cases in which your teacher allows students to opt out of the exam, but the default is usually that all enrolled students register.

If your teacher has not mentioned exam registration during the spring semester, confirm with him or her no later than March 1 that you will be registered for the exam. This will give you time to find another option if, for whatever reason, something has gone awry.

How Do I Register If I Didn’t Enroll in the Class But My High School Is Offering the Exam?

If you chose not to take the AP course offered by your high school but would still like to take the AP exam after self-studying, you will need to speak with your school’s AP Coordinator no later than March 1. Ask a guidance counselor or someone in the administration office to identify who this person is.

Though your first thought may be to speak directly with the teacher who taught the AP class, it is a better choice to go directly to the AP Coordinator. While you run the risk of ruffling the teacher’s feathers by taking the exam but not taking his or her class, The AP Coordinator is a more objective party, and it is his or her job specifically to order testing materials, collect fees, and let you know when and where to show up for the exam. The teacher could of course be more than helpful with this, but it is not technically a part of his or her job, according to official AP administration roles.

How Do I Register For Two Exams Being Given On The Same Day, At the Same Time?

If you have a conflict with another AP exam for any of the AP exams you wish to take, you will need to contact your school’s AP Coordinator to arrange an exam during the late-testing period. Look at the calendar of AP exams and start this conversation no later than March 1. Although this is not an uncommon occurrence, it will mean that a separate exam time needs to be coordinated for you and possibly only you. As such, there is a $45 late-testing fee per exam.

How Do I Register For an Exam if I am Homeschooled or My School Does Not Offer the Exam?

This scenario will require the most work on your part to secure a spot at a testing administration. You will need to arrange to test at a participating school that is willing to test outside students. To do this, you will need to call AP services no later than March 1 to request a list of participating schools near you and to get contact information for the AP coordinators at those schools. The phone number for student AP services, as of late 2016, is 888-225-5427 for calls within the U.S. and 212-632-1780 for international callers.

Once you have obtained a list of nearby schools offering the exam and the contact information for their AP coordinators, you will need to begin contacting the coordinators. Your best bet is to do this by telephone, since it’s a more personal approach and you are essentially asking for a favor. You should tell each coordinator that you are trying to locate a school that will test homeschooled students or students from schools not offering the exam. You should also inform them of which exams you’d like to take and whether you have a documented disability that will require testing accommodations at the exam (if you have been approved by the College Board to test with accommodations).

Once you locate an AP coordinator willing to facilitate the exam for you, that person will be responsible for ordering your exam materials, telling you when and where to report for the exam, and collecting your fees, which may be higher than usual to cover the school’s additional proctoring or administration costs. That school must administer the exams for you, but that is where their responsibility ends. The school cannot forward your exam to you or your school for handling.

On exam day, do not use the school code for the school where you are testing unless you are a regular student there. Instead, make sure to use your own school’s code so that your exam score(s) will be reported to your school. This means you need to get your school’s six-digit code from your principal or school counselor before exam day. If you are home-schooled, use the state or international home-school/self-study code that will be given to you on the day of the exam.

Can I Register for the Same Exam More than Once?

If you have already taken an AP exam and wish to take it again another year to hopefully increase your score, you may do so and register using any of the applicable scenarios above. Keep in mind that scores from both exams will be reported when you send them to colleges, unless you cancel or withdraw one of them. In order to do so, you will need to fill out and submit the AP Score Cancellation Form. Remember, once you cancel a score, it is deleted permanently and cannot be retrieved.

To Sum It Up . . .

Registering for AP exams is a simple process, but it’s also one that’s absolutely critical to get right. Don’t let complacency get the best of you; be proactive in making sure that your registrations are in place and processed correctly so that you can focus on putting all of your hard work to use when exam day rolls around. Be sure to keep in mind that you should confirm your placement in the exam through a teacher, AP coordinator, or AP coordinator from another high school no later than March 1st.

If you’re still unsure about the AP track and whether it’s a good fit for you, as an enrolled student or as self-studier, contact CollegeVine for a free academic consultation. We also offer mentoring and tutoring services to support and guide you through your high school academics. Fill out the form below, and we’ll be in touch to discuss how you can make the most of the coursework ahead.

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Kate Sundquist

Kate Sundquist

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.
Kate Sundquist