Take The Exam If You Are Taking The AP Class

Do you have a few Advanced Placement classes in your schedule?  Now, you’re not required to take the corresponding AP test come May, but the class should be preparing you for said test.  However, an easy question to ask would be: should I take the AP test?  The answer is simply, “yes”.  Here’s why…

College credit for cheap - One AP test will cost you $87 (as of 2010).  Some school districts may even offer financial assistance to students taking AP tests.  That may sound like a lot of money, but on the other hand, many colleges will award you college credit for good scores.  That generally means a “4” or a “5” on any test.  Compared to the cost of taking a college course, $87 is mere peanuts.

Each college has different policies towards awarding credit for AP tests, so be sure to check them out.  For example, here are the AP policies for the top five colleges in the nation:

  1. Harvard 
  2. Princeton 
  3. Yale 
  4. MIT 
  5. Stanford 

Blogger’s personal note: my younger brother was able to graduate college in 3.5 years instead of the usual 4.  That one less semester saved $15,000 in tuition.  Compare that to the $696 spent on the eight AP tests he took.  That’s a bargain if there ever was one.

Valuable experience - If the college you’re interested in does not award any credit for AP tests, it may not be worth your while to take the exam.  However, taking the corresponding AP class will still be a valuable experience.  It will be as close as you can get to a college course without actually taking a college course.  In addition, taking the AP test will give you a very good idea of how you’ll fare when you do take the college course.

Extra notes about AP exams

Advanced Placement tests are scored on a 1-5 scale.  The CollegeBoard has its own interpretations of what each score means:

  • “5” extremely well qualified
  • “4” well qualified
  • “3” qualified
  • “2” possibly qualified
  • “1” no recommendation


There has been criticism from students that the CollegeBoard’s scoring is somewhat inflated.  For example, it’s a well-known “secret” that the AP Statistics test is fairly easy when you walk in with your TI-83.  Here’s a possibly more realistic interpretation of the scores:

  • “5” extremely likely to pass the equivalent college course 
  • “4” likely to pass the equivalent college course
  • “3” may struggle with the equivalent college course
  • “2” very likely to struggle with the equivalent college course
  • “1” thank you for your $87!