Advanced Placement – Why Take This Exam?

Advanced Placement – Why Take This Exam?

Advanced Placement – Why Take This Exam?
Dilip Chaulagain

The Advanced Placement (AP) program allows high school students to take college-level courses and exams. These exams are developed and administered by the College Board, a non-profit organisation aiming to expand higher education access. AP exams cover many subjects, including English, history, math, science, and foreign languages.

The AP program is designed to challenge high-achieving high school students and prepare them for college-level coursework. Students can demonstrate their mastery of college-level material by taking AP courses and exams, potentially earning college credit or advanced placement. AP exams can also strengthen college applications, showing admissions officers that students are prepared for rigorous academic coursework.

There are several benefits to taking AP exams, including:

  1. College credit: Depending on the college or university, students who score well on AP exams may be able to earn college credit, allowing them to skip introductory courses and potentially graduate early.
  2. Advanced Placement: Besides earning college credit, some colleges and universities may offer advanced placement to students who score well on AP exams. This means that students can start their college career in higher-level courses, giving them a head start on their degrees.
  3. Demonstrated academic achievement: AP exams demonstrate to college admissions officers that students have mastered college-level material, providing evidence of academic achievement that can set them apart from other applicants.
  4. Cost savings: Students can save thousands of dollars on college tuition by earning college credit or advanced placement through AP exams.

In the following sections, we will explore these benefits in more detail, as well as additional reasons high school students should consider taking AP exams.

Benefits of Taking the AP Exam

The Advanced Placement (AP) exam is a rigorous exam that high school students can take to demonstrate their mastery of college-level material. The exam covers various subjects, including science, math, history, and English, and is administered by the College Board. This section will explore the many benefits of taking the AP exam.

One of the main benefits of taking the AP exam is the potential to earn college credit and advanced placement in college courses. Colleges and universities may offer credit or advanced placement for high AP exam scores, saving students time and money for college education.

The college credit system works differently at each institution. Still, students who score a 3, 4, or 5 on an AP exam may be eligible for college credit or advanced placement in a related course. For example, a student who scores a 4 on the AP Biology exam may be able to skip the introductory biology course in college and move directly into a more advanced course.

Another benefit of taking the AP exam is its positive impact on a student's high school transcript. AP courses are often weighted more heavily than regular high school courses, which can boost a student's grade point average (GPA) and class rank.

Students demonstrate to college admissions officers that they can handle college-level coursework by taking and excelling in AP courses. This can be especially helpful for students who attend high schools with less rigorous curricula or face other obstacles to demonstrating their academic abilities.

In addition to the potential for college credit and a boost to a student's high school transcript, taking the AP exam can also give students a competitive edge in college admissions. Many colleges and universities view AP courses and exam scores favourably and may use them in admissions decisions.

By taking and excelling in AP courses, students demonstrate to college admissions officers that they are motivated, academically talented, and prepared for the challenges of college coursework. This can set them apart from other applicants and improve their chances of admission to their preferred colleges and universities.

Exam Content and Preparation

The AP exam is a standardised test administered by the College Board that assesses a student's understanding of a particular subject at a college level. The exam format includes multiple-choice and free-response questions, ranging from two to three hours.

Each AP exam covers a subject area and includes topics students learn throughout the school year. The exam content varies depending on the subject, but all exams assess students' critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Some popular AP subjects are Biology, Chemistry, Calculus, English Language and Composition, U.S. History, and Psychology.

To achieve a good score on the AP exam, preparing adequately is essential. Here are some tips for effective preparation:

  1. Develop a study schedule that allocates time for each subject and ensures coverage of all the content areas. Start studying early, and review the material regularly. Utilise textbooks, notes, and online resources to reinforce the concepts learned in class.
  2. Take practice exams to familiarise yourself with the exam format and assess your strengths and weaknesses. Numerous online resources, including review books, practice exams, and videos, can help you prepare.
  3. The AP exam is time-bound, and time management is crucial. Practice answering questions within the allotted time to feel how to pace yourself during the exam. Develop time management strategies such as skipping difficult questions and returning to them later or using the process of elimination to narrow down multiple-choice options.

Who Should Take the AP Exam?

First, it's important to understand that AP courses and exams are designed for high-achieving students who are willing to challenge themselves academically. Students who enjoy learning and want to explore a subject in greater depth may find AP courses and exams rewarding.

Students who may benefit from taking the AP exam include:

  • Those who plan to pursue a college education and want to demonstrate their readiness for college-level work
  • Those who have a strong interest in a particular subject and want to dive deeper into the material
  • Those who are looking for a challenge and want to push themselves academically
  • Those who want to stand out on their college applications and demonstrate their academic strengths
  • Those who are interested in earning college credit or placement based on their AP exam scores

AP courses are typically more challenging than regular high school courses. They cover material in greater depth and require more independent study and critical thinking. AP courses are also designed to prepare students for the corresponding AP exam, which covers the same material in even greater depth.

While AP courses and exams can be a great opportunity, it's important for students to carefully consider their coursework, academic ability, interest and motivation, and available time and resources.

  1. AP courses and exams require a significant amount of work and dedication. Students who need help to keep up with their regular coursework may find AP courses overwhelming. It's important to consider whether taking an AP course detracts from other important academic or extracurricular activities.
  2. Students interested in a particular subject and motivated to learn more about it may find AP courses and exams highly rewarding. On the other hand, if a student has little interest in a subject, they may need help to stay motivated and keep up with the coursework.
  3. AP courses and exams require a significant investment of time and resources. Students must be willing to commit time to study, preparing for the exam, and potentially paying for the exam fees and study materials.


Taking the AP exam can offer numerous benefits, including college credit and placement, a boost to your high school transcript, and a competitive edge in college admissions.

Students interested in challenging themselves academically and preparing for college coursework should take the AP exam.

The AP exam can provide a valuable opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a particular subject area while potentially earning college credit and standing out in college admissions. With proper preparation and consideration of individual factors, the AP exam can be a valuable investment in a student's academic future.

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