The Top 4 Myths About AP Exams

You may be on the cusp of taking an AP exam, or perhaps you’re deciding whether or not to enroll in an AP course next semester. Regardless, it’s key to understand the truth about what AP exams entail. Myths about AP exams include that the tested content will be fully covered in class, all colleges will award college credit, and that you must score a 5 in order to receive college credit.

Looking to gain a better understanding of AP exams? Keep reading to learn the top four myths about AP exams.

AP exam myth #1: All tested content will be covered in your AP class

When you take an AP course, you might assume that all of the content on the end-of-year exam will be taught in your class. This, however, is not necessarily the case. Your teacher does the best he or she can to touch on all aspects of the exam material, but whether due to lack of time or other school particularities, he or she might not get to everything. To make sure you’re as prepared as possible, the following strategies may be beneficial:

  • Utilize an AP exam prep book

  • Take AP practice tests

  • Talk to your teacher about what content you might be able to focus on during your free time

Practice tests, in particular, are extremely helpful for getting a sense of the test format and the time constraints of the actual exam—something you won’t get from an in-person class.

[RELATED: 3 Last-Minute Study Techniques for AP Exams]

AP exam myth #2: All colleges and universities award college credit for AP exams

Even though AP courses are widely known for allowing you to start college with credits under your belt, you’ll want to check with your intended institutions for their specific policies, as they differ from school to school. Some institutions, instead of giving college credit, allow you to bypass introductory courses. In these cases, you’re still required to take the same number of credit hours, which would prevent you from graduating early. Don’t panic, however, if you’re already taking the course and have discovered that AP exam credit isn’t accepted by your intended university, as it’s likely the AP course will benefit you in college regardless.

AP exam myth #3: You must get a 5 in order to receive college credit

Even if your intended school does accept college credit, you might think that you need to score a 5 in order to receive that credit. This is not always the case. For some schools and subjects, you might be able to receive a 4 or even a 3 in order to earn college credit. Before sitting for the exam, research what your schools of interest require in terms of AP exam scores. This information might help you decide how you want to prioritize your study time for the exam.

[RELATED: How are AP Exams Scored?]

AP exam myth #4: You shouldn’t take an AP exam or course if you can’t afford the test fee

As of 2019, AP exams cost $94 per test. If the price tag is the deciding factor for taking the exam, you may be able to qualify for some reductions. For example, The College Board provides a possible $32 reduction per exam that is based on where you attend high school and on your demonstrated need. Visit your guidance counselor or academic advisor who might be able to offer some other resources, state funding, and grants that you can look into.

[RELATED: Top Tips for AP Exam Week]

All of these factors—cost, whether or not you’ll receive college credit, and the time you’ve put into studying for the test—are key factors to understand when preparing for AP exams. Take time to educate yourself on AP tests and rule out all AP myths.

Any topics you want to know more about? Let us know! The Varsity Tutors Blog editors love hearing your feedback and opinions. Feel free to email us at