Everything You Need to Know about AP Exams

by Kathryn Knight, Staff Writer

Advanced Placements (AP) tests can garner you college credits before you’ve even enrolled (that’s why they’re called “advanced” placement).  The tests measure what you learned in AP courses, although you don’t have to take an AP course to take an AP exam. (But remember that admissions officers do look at your curriculum, and AP courses are often considered more challenging — and that’s a good thing.)

 The exams are offered once a year in May.  Time to get ready!
 Before the exam…

Attend study courses.

Oftentimes, teachers, schools, or districts will hold Advanced Placement exam study courses.  Check with your teachers or the local newspapers for more information.  These sessions give students the opportunity to practice and to learn what answers the AP exams require.
Use outside resources for study.
If you’re taking a foreign language AP exam, check out language books and films from your local library.  Really immerse yourself in the language.  For history and social science exams, read books that aren’t required coursework.  It’s great practice that doesn’t have to feel like homework.

Read everything.

Forget skimming — start reading everything.  When you’re taking the exam, you’ll need to read the entire question and all of the answers to avoid choosing an answer that’s “almost right.”

Show everything

Success on the AP exams is measured by the process it takes to come up with the answers.  Think thoroughly and analytically, whether you’re writing, solving equations, or speaking aloud in a foreign language.
After the exam…


After the exam, the multiple-choice sections are graded by a computer, while the free-response sections are graded by college professors at the annual AP Reading in June.  Those scores are combined to form your composite score.
Composite scores are as follows:
5—Extremely well qualified
4—Well qualified
2—Possibly qualified
1—No recommendation.
To earn college credit, students typically need to score a 3 or higher on the AP exam.  However, some universities have stricter standards.  It is also up to the university to award you with a semester or a whole year’s worth of college credit in that particular subject. Check with your school’s policies for more detailed information.
So choose your test subjects wisely, and good luck!

Article courtesy of and

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