Facts About AP Exams

Facts About AP Exams: Everything You Need to Know

AP exams evaluate a student’s mastery of a specific AP course. While most courses have a traditional end-of-year exam, some, like AP Art and Design, require students to submit portfolios.

The format of AP exams varies, lasting two to three hours and featuring multiple-choice and free-response questions. Online testing is now an option for some exams, providing flexibility for students to take the test at home or in school, with strict guidelines to maintain integrity.

Scores range from 1 to 5 and are determined by college professors and experienced AP teachers. Many U.S. colleges grant credit for scores of 3 or higher, but policies vary. To find out a college’s AP credit policy, students can use the College Board’s website tool to search colleges based on their AP exam scores.

The Role of the College Board

The College Board is a non-profit organization that administers the Advanced Placement (AP) program. The AP program enables high school students to take college-level courses and exams, earning college credit and demonstrating their readiness for post-secondary education.

The College Board plays a crucial role in the AP program. It designs and develops the AP curriculum, creates the AP exams, and provides resources and support to schools and teachers. The College Board also oversees the AP Course Audit, which ensures that AP courses meet college-level standards and are taught effectively.

In addition, the College Board provides various resources to students and educators through its website, AP Central. This includes information on course content, exam format, scoring, practice exams, instructional videos, and professional development opportunities for teachers.

The College Board also researches the effectiveness of the AP program and its impact on student outcomes. This research has shown that students who take AP courses and exams are more likely to succeed in college and have higher graduation rates than their peers who do not participate in the program.

AP Courses Offered

The Advanced Placement (AP) program offers various courses across various subjects. These courses are designed to provide high school students with a college-level education and prepare them for the rigors of higher education. AP courses are offered in various subjects, including English, math, science, social studies, and world languages.

Some of the popular AP courses include AP English Literature and Composition, AP Computer Science Principles, AP European History, AP World History: Modern, AP African American Studies, AP Chemistry, AP Psychology, AP Art History, AP Calculus BC, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP Biology, and AP Music Theory. Each course covers an in-depth subject and prepares students for the corresponding AP exam.

AP courses are designed to challenge students and allow them to explore their interests. They are taught higher than regular high school courses, and students are expected to complete college-level coursework and assignments.

AP courses are also designed to give students the skills they need to succeed in college, including critical thinking, problem-solving, and time management.

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Students interested in taking AP courses should visit the College Board’s website to learn more about the courses offered, the requirements for each course, and the corresponding exams.

The website also provides course pages that offer detailed information about each course, including the course syllabus, the topics covered, and the skills students are expected to master.

The AP Exam Process

The exam is administered in May, and students can choose from several test dates. The College Board offers a variety of AP exams, including AP Art and Design, which requires students to submit a portfolio of work for scoring.

On the exam day, students must bring a few essential items, including a calculator, pencils, and a valid photo ID. Electronic devices such as phones are not allowed in the testing room; students should leave them at home or in their lockers.

Students must carefully follow the proctor’s instructions and guidelines during the exam. They must complete the multiple-choice section and then move on to the free-response section, which requires students to write essays, solve problems, or create other responses based on the course material.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AP Exam process has undergone some changes. The College Board has offered online testing options for students who cannot take the exam in person. Additionally, the College Board has provided resources for students to prepare for the exam, including online practice tests and study materials.

To ensure students perform their best on the exam, they should bring snacks and take breaks as needed. Overall, the AP Exam process measures students’ mastery of a specific course and prepares them for college-level coursework.

Role of Teachers and Schools

AP courses are designed and taught by experienced and knowledgeable teachers committed to their students’ learning. The AP curriculum is developed by committees of college faculty and AP teachers, who emphasize current disciplinary reforms and the best of current college practices, pedagogy, and course content.

AP teachers play a crucial role in preparing students for the AP exams. They provide students with rigorous coursework that challenges them to think critically and deeply about the subject. They also teach students valuable skills, such as time management, test-taking strategies, and effective study habits, essential for exam success.

Schools also play an essential role in supporting AP students. AP coordinators work with teachers to ensure students can access AP courses and exams.

They also provide students with exam information, including registration deadlines, test dates, and test-taking policies. Schools may also offer resources, such as study materials, review sessions, and practice tests, to help students prepare for the exams.

High schools that offer AP courses and exams provide students with a unique opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school. By taking and passing AP exams, students can demonstrate their mastery of college-level material and potentially earn credit or advanced standing at colleges and universities.

This can save students time and money on their college education and give them a head start on their coursework.

The Value of AP Exams for Students

AP exams offer numerous benefits to students who take them. Firstly, they allow students to earn college credit while still in high school. Many colleges and universities accept qualifying AP scores as equivalent to college-level coursework, saving students time and money in the long run.

Moreover, AP exams can help students stand out in college admissions. According to the College Board, 85% of selective colleges and universities report that a student’s AP experience favorably impacts admission decisions.

This is because AP courses demonstrate a student’s passion for learning and willingness to challenge themselves academically.

In addition, performing well in AP courses can boost a student’s overall GPA. AP courses are often weighted on a 5.0 scale, meaning that an AP is worth more than an A in a regular course. This can help students who are aiming for competitive colleges or scholarships.

Finally, signing up for AP exams can be a valuable experience. AP courses are designed to be challenging and rigorous, and taking the corresponding exam can help students gauge their abilities and measure their progress.

Even if a student does not earn a qualifying AP score, the experience of preparing for and taking the exam can still be valuable.

AP Exams and College Applications

AP courses and exams can significantly affect the college application process. Students who take AP courses and do well on the AP exams can demonstrate their readiness for college-level coursework to college admissions officers.

Having AP courses on a student’s transcript shows they have challenged themselves with the most rigorous courses. It also shows that they have taken the initiative to seek out advanced coursework and are willing to put in the effort required to succeed.

While AP scores are not the only factor considered in college admissions, they can help students stand out from other applicants. Admissions officers may view high AP scores as evidence of a student’s ability to handle the demands of college-level coursework.

In addition, some colleges and universities offer college credits to students who score well on AP exams. This can allow students to skip introductory-level courses and move directly into more advanced coursework, potentially saving time and money in the long run.

However, it’s important to note that not all colleges and universities accept AP credits. Students should research the policies of the schools they are interested in attending to determine whether AP credits will be accepted and how they will be applied.

Facts About AP Exams

Exam Fees and Accommodations

AP Exam fees vary depending on the school’s location and the order’s date. For schools in the U.S., U.S. territories, Canada, and all DoDEA schools, the exam fee for on-time orders (by November 15, 2023, for full-year and first-semester courses, and exam-only sections; by March 15, 2024, for courses that start after November 15) is $98 per exam.

For schools everywhere else, the fee is $128 per exam. Fees may vary for exams at different schools, so students should check with their school’s AP Coordinator for specific pricing.

Students with documented disabilities may be eligible for accommodations on AP Exams. Accommodations include extended time, large-print exams, a written copy of spoken test instructions, and permission to use a braille device, computer, or magnifying device.

Students must submit a request through the College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) program to be approved for accommodations. The SSD Guidelines, which provide more information about administering AP Exams for students with approved accommodations, will be available in early 2024.

Under standard conditions, most AP Exams take 2-3 hours. The exam is closer to two hours for subjects corresponding to half-year college courses. An accommodation for extended time usually gives either 50% or 100% more time.

When the College Board approves students for extended time, they may be given up to 50% more time, which means they would have up to 4.5 hours to complete the exam. If a student is approved for 100% more time, they would have up to 6 hours to complete the exam.

Preparation and Resources

Preparing for AP exams can be daunting, but many resources are available to help students succeed. Here are some tips and suggestions to help students prepare for their exams:


One of the best ways to prepare for AP exams is to practice. Students should take advantage of practice exams and questions from the College Board and their teachers.

These resources can help students become familiar with the exam format and the types of questions that will be asked. Additionally, students can use practice exams to identify areas for improvement and focus their studying.


There are many resources available to help students prepare for AP exams. The College Board provides various resources, including study guides, practice exams, and online courses. Students can also find resources through teachers, school libraries, and online study groups. Students must find resources that work best for them and their learning styles.


Students should also research the colleges and universities they plan to attend to determine their AP credit policies. Some colleges may only accept specific AP exams for credit, and some may require a minimum score for credit. Students can use this information to determine which exams to take and how much they must study for each.

AP Exams in Different Countries

AP exams are administered in various countries worldwide, allowing students to earn college credit for their high school coursework. Here are some facts about AP exams in different countries:


India has a growing number of students taking AP exams. In 2020, over 11,000 students took AP exams in India, with most of them taking the AP Calculus exam. AP exams are administered in several cities across India, including Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune.


In Singapore, AP exams are administered by two administrators: Prometric and USEIC. In 2020, over 2,000 students took AP exams in Singapore, with most of them taking the AP Calculus exam. AP exams are administered in several cities across Singapore, including Singapore City and Jurong East.


In Vietnam, AP exams are administered by IIG. In 2020, over 1,000 students took AP exams in Vietnam, most of them taking the AP Calculus exam. AP exams are administered in several cities across Vietnam, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Other Countries

AP exams are also administered in many other countries worldwide, including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The number of students taking AP exams in these countries varies yearly, but the exams are generally administered in major cities in each country.

AP Seminar and AP Research

The College Board offers AP Seminars and AP Research courses as part of the Advanced Placement (AP) program. These courses are designed to give students the skills to conduct research and engage in critical thinking across multiple disciplines.

AP Seminar is a year-long course in which students investigate real-world issues from multiple perspectives. They learn to analyze and evaluate sources, develop arguments, and present their findings in various formats. The course culminates in a team project, presentation, and individual research-based essay.

AP Research is a year-long course that builds on the skills developed in AP Seminar. In this course, students design, plan, and conduct a year-long research project on a topic of their choice. Students are expected to use various sources and methodologies to gather data, analyze their findings, and present their research in a written thesis and oral defense.

AP Seminar and AP Research emulate the intimate atmosphere of a college seminar, fostering interdisciplinary exploration and encouraging in-depth individual research. These courses benefit students pursuing law, medicine, or academic careers.

While AP Seminars and AP Research are not explicitly geared toward math-related topics, students are encouraged to explore topics that interest them, regardless of the subject area. The skills developed in these courses, such as critical thinking, research, and presentation, are transferable to various fields and disciplines.

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