One potential benefit of taking Advanced Placement courses is starting college with "advanced standing." That means you can take required courses sooner and possibly graduate college earlier. Here's how it works.
AP examinations, offered each year in May, are scored on a scale of 1-5. If you earn a score of 3 or higher on an AP exam, you may be qualified to receive college credit for your work.
Will Your College Give You Credit?
Each college has its own policies about granting credit for AP exams. This information is usually included in the college's general catalog or bulletin, or posted on the college's website.
Colleges offer credit in several ways: general credit toward graduation; credit toward general education, breadth, or other requirements; or credit for a specific course. The type and amount of credit you receive may depend upon your AP exam score and the major you choose. For example, a score of 3 may earn you general credit, while a score of 5 may satisfy more than one requirement and exempt you from taking a lower-level course in a subject. Some colleges use AP scores to determine placement of students in the appropriate level of a particular course series or subject.
Entering College with Sophomore Standing
Some students are able to earn an entire year of college credit through AP. This is called entering with sophomore or advanced standing. Nearly 50 percent of colleges on CollegeData will grant sophomore standing to students who have earned qualifying scores on the appropriate number of AP exams.
While this sounds like a great option to pursue, it takes significant effort to achieve. You would probably need to take at least six full-year AP courses and exams, an ambitious and demanding course load.
Earning college credit through AP is a bonus, but it shouldn't be your primary goal. What matters most to colleges is that you have challenged yourself and taken full advantage of your school's academic offerings. AP demonstrates your ability to meet the challenges of college-level work.
For more information about AP courses and exams, visit the College Board.