Preparing for and applying to college sometimes seems like a process of juggling specialized acronyms, from the PSAT to the FERPA waiver to the FAFSA. A particular acronym that you should start thinking about early in high school, however, is AP—the Advanced Placement curriculum of coursework and exams for high school students.

 

Since they’re more subject-specific and more closely linked to your work in the classroom than many standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, AP exams bring something special to the table. If you intend to apply to competitive colleges and want to demonstrate your academic skills, AP options are definitely worth your consideration.

 

Ready to learn more? Read on for an overview of the AP program and links to all our detailed blog posts on how to prepare.

 

Introducing the Advanced Placement (AP) Program

 

The AP program was created to give high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses. The program, which is administered by the College Board, has created curricula for year-long courses on a range of different subjects, along with year-end exams intended to determine whether students really understand the material at a college level.

 

AP courses are often among the most academically advanced courses offered by a high school, so they’re an attractive option for students looking for a particularly challenging scholarly experience. As we’ve covered previously on the CollegeVine blog, colleges like to see applicants who have sought out these sorts of challenges, and taking an AP course or exam can be a great way to demonstrate your academic prowess.

 

Scoring well on your AP exams can also potentially save you time and money in college. Some colleges accept certain scores on AP exams in lieu of college coursework for placement purposes, as a prerequisite for more advanced courses, or even for credit toward your degree. (Check with each college you’re interested in to learn more about their specific policies.)

 

For a more detailed overview of the AP program and what it means to take an AP course, check out our introductory post on the topic:

 

What is an Advanced Placement (AP) Class?

 

For guides to each AP subject and information on how to prepare for your exam, take a look at our list of detailed subject-specific posts:

 

Guides for Acing Your AP Exams

 

 

Choosing your AP courses

 

Where to begin? With over thirty AP subjects available at present, it can be hard to decide whether to take AP courses, which to take, and when you’re ready to take them. Your high school may offer a large variety or only a few, but the option to self-study AP subjects and take the AP exams independently may broaden your horizons.

 

In this section, you’ll find our best advice for making informed decisions about your AP courses and exams.

 

Should I Take AP/IB/Honors Classes?

How to Choose Which AP Courses and Exams to Take

What If My School Doesn’t Offer AP or IB Courses?

Which AP Exam Should You Self-Study?

The Ultimate Guide to Self-Studying AP Exams

What Should I Do if I Already Finished AP Calc BC/AP Lit Before My Senior Year?

Managing your AP classes

 

When AP classes become part of your workload, you’ll have to adjust to their increased demands. This can be a challenge, especially if you’re juggling multiple AP classes at once as well as all your other activities. It’s wise to think about how your AP courses fit into your overall academic plan and whether they’re worthwhile given the effort they require.

 

Below, you’ll find posts on how to interpret your grades in AP courses, whether dropping an AP course is ever a good idea, and how to connect your AP courses into a cohesive overall curriculum using the AP Capstone Diploma Program.

 

 

Is It Better to get a B in an AP/IB/Honors Course or an A in a Regular Course?

Should I Drop an AP, IB, or Honors Class?

An Introduction to the AP Capstone Diploma

Preparing for your AP exams

 

Of course, the culmination of any AP course is the exam in that subject, which requires some preparation of its own. Here are a few of our posts about the AP exam experience. Knowing what to do with regard to the administrative details of the testing process will free up your mind to focus on the test’s content.

 

How to Register for AP Exams (Even If You Didn’t Take the Class)

What Should I Bring to My AP Exam? (And What Should I Definitely Leave At Home?)

Interpreting your AP exam scores

 

After taking your AP exams in May, you’ll receive your scores over the following summer. It can be hard to ascertain what that score—an enigmatic number between one and five—actually means for you and for your college plans. In these posts, we’ll go over everything you need to know to understand your AP test scores and what to do with them.

AP Exam Scores: All Your Questions Answered

How Much Do AP Scores Matter?

How to Report Bad AP Results

Using your AP results: college admissions and credit

 

Quite a few people who take AP courses and exams are attracted to the program by how well it’s regarded by colleges, both in terms of making admissions decisions and in terms of using AP exam scores for college credit. Here, we’ll cover the potential benefits that you may get from having participated in the AP program when it comes to college.

 

Can You Be An Engineer Without Taking AP Physics: How the Classes You Take Affect Your Chances at Admission

What are AP Scholar Awards?

Can AP Tests Actually Save You Thousands of Dollars?

 

We hope these resources will be helpful to you as you continue to seek out academic challenges and get ready for college. Good luck!

 

Monikah Schuschu

Monikah Schuschu

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Monikah Schuschu is an alumna of Brown University and Harvard University. As a graduate student, she took a job at the Harvard College Office of Financial Aid and Admissions, and discovered the satisfaction of helping students and parents with the often-baffling college admissions process. She also enjoys fiber art, murder mysteries, and amateur entomology.
Monikah Schuschu