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AP Credit without the Class?

With sights set on college admission, adding AP classes and tests to your resume might just give the needed edge for admission.  AP classes are viewed favorably for college admission by 85% of selective colleges.  Being part of the 30% of high school students who take one or more AP exams, or better yet the approximately 60% of those students who scored a 3, 4 or 5 on the exam, can make you a standout.

Do You Have Time?

Available time can be a factor in choosing to pursue AP classes.  Not only are you dedicating a period each day to the class, but you can also expect 1.5 to 2 hours of outside homework each night. Fitting in one class may be doable, but multiple? As I met with Sue last night to plan her 4-year high school schedule, she had 4 AP classes slated for her senior year, which is still a couple of years away.  Her goal? Getting into the most selective colleges. However, when we did the math of potentially 8 hours’ worth of homework just for the AP classes, not to mention her 3 other classes, she figured this isn’t a realistic or healthy goal – at least until they invent a pill to substitute for sleep.

Exam Only Option

A little known fact is students are able to take the $94 AP exams without having enrolled in AP courses.  Your own high school may have a policy against it, but there is likely a school in your area who would allow it; after all, schools retain money for every AP test administered. While it may be permitted, is AP testing without the class a good idea? And how can you increase your odds of getting a 3, 4 or 5 on the exam getting you credit or placement at one of the 90% of colleges who offer it?

  • Interest = Self-Motivation  From the 38 possible choices, choose a subject of high interest to you, so you are motivated to study
  • Buy one of the recommended textbooks, not just a study guide, to prepare. You can search for a resource on AP Central
  • Purchase the study guides too and plan to do numerous practice tests
  • If not taking the AP class, be sure you are taking rigorous honors or accelerated curriculum in a corresponding subject
  • If in a lab-based science, such as chemistry or physics, consider how not completing the lab might hurt you
  • Be ready to invest significant study time throughout the school year, not just at exam time

Do Your Research

Before you make a decision, check with your high school as to the viability of taking the test without the course, the colleges of interest on whether they will grant credit or placement for a qualifying score without the course and your expectations to be sure this is the right move.  For most, it won’t be, but for a few, it’s a great choice.

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