The Advanced Placement® Program (AP) offers students the opportunity to take college-level courses and exams in high school and earn college credit, advanced placement, or both at many colleges and universities in the U.S. and around the world.
By earning college credit in high school and skipping introductory courses in college, your child can save time and money as they work toward a college degree.
- There are 38 AP subjects. See a full list of AP courses and exams.
- AP Exams take place each May and are scored on a scale of 1–5. Learn more about AP Exam scores.
- Most colleges grant credit, advanced placement, or both for AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. See which colleges give credit for which scores.
- AP courses are free. See current AP Exam fees and learn what assistance is available for students with financial need.
- 85% of selective colleges and universities report that a student’s AP experience has a positive impact on admission decisions.
Benefits of Taking AP
In addition to saving time and money on their way to a college degree, your child can benefit in the following ways just by taking an AP course:
- They'll dig deeper into subjects that interest them.
- They'll stand out in the college admission process.
- They'll build the confidence and skills they need to tackle challenging college coursework.
- They'll increase their chances of completing a college degree in 4 years or less.
Taking AP may also help your child earn scholarships to help pay for college.
Who Should Take AP?
In general, any student in grades 11–12 who is academically ready should consider taking AP. If your child has taken the PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT, or SAT, the AP Potential section of their online score report will indicate which AP courses your child is likely to do well in based on how they performed on the test.
Students can also get AP course recommendations from their teachers and school counselors.
Sometimes, a student is ready to take AP in 10th grade. If your child took the PSAT 8/9 in eighth or ninth grade, their score report will let you know if they show the potential to do well in AP World History or AP European History—the two AP courses most often offered to high school sophomores.
To see your child's full score report for any of the PSAT-related tests, log in to Student Scores with the username and password your child used to create their account. If you need assistance, talk to your child's school counselor.
How Many AP Courses Is Enough?
There's no magic number of AP courses that's right for all students. Every student is unique, and the amount of college-level coursework they’re ready to take on varies.
Your child should talk to their teachers and school counselors to help them decide how many AP courses to take. They have keen insight into your child's readiness to tackle academic challenges and how much effort AP courses require.
Keep in mind: More is not always better. AP courses ask high school students to do college-level work, so if your child takes too many, they may feel overwhelmed. It's better to take fewer AP courses and do well in them than take more AP courses and perform poorly.
AP Course Grades and Exam Scores
When your child takes an AP course in school, they'll get a grade just like when they take any other course. Taking AP courses will help your child stand out to colleges and universities, but it won't earn them college credit.
When your child takes an AP Exam in May, college faculty and experienced AP teachers review your child's responses and give the exam a score of 1–5. Your child will get credit at many colleges and universities for AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. Explore AP credit policies.
AP Exam scores are available in July. If your child already has a College Board online account, all they have to do is log in to AP Scores with the username and password they used when they created their account.
If they're asked for their AP number, they'll find it on the labels that came with their AP Student Pack when they took the exam.
Students should send their AP Exam scores to the colleges they're planning to attend to be eligible for college credit or placement in an advanced course. Learn more about sending AP scores.