What the heck are AP Exams?! – Zarah

Taken each May by students all over the nation, the AP Exam is the final step you take after a year of hard work in an AP class! These standardized exams are designed to measure how well you’ve mastered the content and skills of the course. Excelling on these exams could even earn you college credit or advanced placement in college. Around this time of year, high school freshmen come forward with questions about what the exams are, what the exams are for, how the exams are scored, and how the exams impact their future. Here are a few quick facts about the AP exams to answer these questions.



  • AP exams are college-level tests created and administered by The College Board. Students can take tests in multiple subjects. A list of all AP courses and exams is available at collegeboard.com.
  • More than 90% of four-year colleges in the United States offer credits or advanced placement for AP exam scores. Earning AP credits can help students graduate in four years (or even earlier) and have more time to pursue activities like study abroad programs. Even if your college doesn’t grant credits, your score can place you in a higher level class.
  • Students take AP exams in May and receive their scores in July.
  • Unlike the SAT or ACT, AP exams are not directly related to college admissions, since schools do not require that students take them. Advanced placement courses and high AP scores will look good on an application, but the exams’ function is to determine college credit or course placement in college. You don’t have to send these scores in, but if you do well then sending the scores in will be beneficial as it shows colleges that you can already handle college-level courses.
  • According to The College Board, students who take AP courses do better in college than those who don’t. In fact, students who take AP exams in high school are 62% more likely to graduate from college in four years or less. Because they are more challenging and require more work than regular high school classes, AP courses help students prepare for the rigor of college courses.
  • To excel in a AP course, a student should have exceptional reading and writing skills and high levels of motivation and discipline. If you’re struggling in a particular subject, an AP course in that subject is probably not a good idea.
  • Each AP test has two sections—multiple choice and free response. The multiple choice is graded by a computer and the free response is graded by college professors and AP teachers.
  • Final scores are on a five-point scale. The highest score a student can receive is a 5 and the lowest a student can receive is a 1.
  • Students who do well, meaning they received a score of 3 or higher, on the exams are eligible for one or more AP Scholar awards, which are awards that are sent to colleges along with a student’s application.


With that said, I wish you all luck on your upcoming exams. If you need help preparing for your AP exam, HSA Tutoring has great programs with flexible options that can be tailored to your needs. If you have any questions, please email tutoring@hsa.net.


~ Zarah


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