What are AP Classes?

AP ClassesIf your parents or teachers have suggested that you take AP classes, you might be wondering what AP classes are. To learn more about what they are and why you may want to consider taking them, read on.

What AP Classes Are

AP classes, also referred to as Advanced Placement classes, are courses that high school students can take in order to earn credit for college. While each high school offers different AP courses, you may be able to take classes in areas like:

  • Art
  • English
  • History
  • Social Science
  • Math
  • Computer Science
  • Science
  • Foreign Language

AP courses are normally taken during a student’s junior or senior year. Any AP classes that you take should count towards your high school graduation requirements. You’ll be graded the same way you are in your other classes, but the subject material will be harder. This is because AP classes are supposed to cover college-level material. At the end of the year, you’ll take a comprehensive proctored test. If you get a good score, you may able to get college credit. You won’t earn college credit if you do poorly, but your AP scores won’t affect your high school grades at all.

The AP Exam

Once you know what AP classes are, you’ll probably want to know about the test-taking process and how the examinations are graded. AP exams are scheduled in the spring. Most tests last around three hours. Since exams normally have free-response questions in addition to multiple-choice questions, students don’t know their scores right away. A grader has to review the essay questions or the problem-solving questions before scores are sent out to students. If you take an AP test, you’ll be notified of your score sometime during the summer. According to the official AP website, the five scores that you can get mean the following:

  • 5 – Extremely Well-Qualified
  • 4 – Well-Qualified
  • 3 – Qualified
  • 2 – Possibly Qualified
  • 1 – No Recommendation

Earning College Credit

All colleges in the U.S. know what AP classes are, and many offer credit for AP exams. Different schools may offer credit for different tests. For instance, one college may award you four credits if you pass the AP Biology exam, but another college may only give you three credits. Some schools award eight credits for good AP Biology scores. In order to get credit, you usually have to score at least a 3. Some colleges require a score of 4 for certain subjects. Even if the college that you’re planning on going to will accept a score of 3, try to get a higher score if you can. Many universities offer more credits for higher scores in certain subject areas. The credits that you earn from passing your AP tests can count towards your general education or major requirements. If you don’t need the credits, they can still count as electives.

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Taking AP courses can help you prepare for college and impress college admissions officers. Once you learn what AP classes are, you should seriously consider taking some if you want to be challenged in high school.