Why You Should Take Advanced Placement Tests: A Guide for Students

When it comes to college admissions, Advanced Placement (AP) Exams are often seen as optional. Unlike the SAT or ACT, colleges don’t typically require AP Exam scores for admission. However, students may wonder, “Should I take AP Exams?” In this article, we’ll explore the advantages of taking AP Exams and how they can potentially save you thousands of dollars in college tuition. Let’s dive in!

Understanding AP Exams

AP Exams are standardized tests created by the College Board to assess a student’s proficiency in a college-level subject.

Most students take AP Exams after completing an AP Course, which are rigorous courses designed to be taught in high school. These courses are offered nationwide, covering a wide range of subjects.

It’s worth noting that students aren’t required to take an AP Course before sitting for an AP Exam. Many students choose to self-study, using textbooks or online resources to prepare for the exam independently. Regardless of how you prepare, your exam will be graded the same as if you had taken the corresponding course in school.

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Cost of AP Exams

As of 2022, each AP Exam costs $96. However, students with demonstrated financial need, such as those eligible for free or reduced-price federal lunch programs, can receive a fee reduction and pay $53 instead.

Benefits of AP Exams

The primary benefit of taking AP Exams lies in the potential for earning college credit and placement. Here’s how it works:

College Credit: By scoring well on an AP Exam, students may earn college credit for the corresponding course. This credit can allow students to graduate early, save money on tuition, or have more flexibility in their college course load.

Placement: AP Exams also offer the opportunity for advanced placement in college courses. Students who perform well on these exams may be able to skip introductory-level courses and enroll directly in more advanced classes. This allows students to pursue more challenging coursework that aligns with their interests and abilities.

The Role of AP Scores in College Applications

Many students wonder whether Advanced Placement (AP) Scores play a significant role in their college applications. While it’s true that students have the option to send AP Scores to colleges, most admissions offices have indicated that AP Scores are not a primary factor in admissions decisions. However, for students applying to colleges in the United Kingdom, AP Scores are essential for their applications, making them crucial in that context.

However, it’s essential to note that taking AP Classes can positively impact your admissions chances. These courses not only enhance your weighted GPA but also demonstrate your ability to excel in college-level academics, which can impress admissions officers.

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What if My High School Doesn’t Offer AP Courses?

If your high school doesn’t offer AP Courses, you still have the option to take AP Exams through self-study. While this may present challenges, especially for subjects you’re less familiar with, it’s feasible, particularly for topics you’re passionate about or have prior knowledge in. For instance, if you’re proficient in French, consider taking the AP French Language and Culture exam.

Will Colleges Accept My AP Credits?

The acceptance of AP Credits varies among colleges. Some institutions offer placement but no credit, while others grant credit based on certain score thresholds. It’s crucial to research each college’s AP credit policy to understand how your scores may be recognized.

Do I Have to Take an AP Exam If I Took an AP Course?

Taking an AP Exam is not mandatory after completing an AP Course. While it can provide additional benefits such as potential college credit and cost savings, it’s not required. However, it’s worth noting that many teachers use practice AP Exams as final assessments in their courses, so it’s essential to prepare adequately even if you opt not to take the official exam.

What Happens If I Fail?

Failing an AP Exam doesn’t have significant repercussions. Students only lose the exam fee and don’t need to report failed exams to colleges. Additionally, failed exams don’t impact grades in the corresponding course.

Easiest and Hardest AP Exams

AP Exams’ difficulty varies based on individual strengths and interests. Students should choose courses aligned with their abilities and passions. For example, those inclined towards sciences may find exams in that area easier, while history enthusiasts may excel in AP American History.


While Advanced Placement (AP) Scores may not be the deciding factor in college admissions, they still hold value in the academic journey of students. Although colleges generally do not heavily weigh AP Scores in admissions decisions, the rigor of AP Courses and the challenge of AP Exams can showcase students’ abilities to excel in college-level coursework. Moreover, for students applying to colleges in the United Kingdom, AP Scores are essential, underscoring their significance in certain contexts. Whether students choose to take AP Exams or not, the experience gained from AP Courses and exams can foster valuable skills and potentially lead to college credit, making them worthwhile pursuits for many students. Ultimately, while AP Scores may not make or break college applications, they can certainly enrich students’ educational experiences and open doors to academic opportunities.