Advanced Placement Planning Guide

For students from many backgrounds, the challenge of AP courses helps to focus students’ interests as they begin to plan for their future. In fact, recent research following AP students into college shows that these students are more likely than other students to take additional courses in the academic departments for which they received AP credit, and to major in the subject of their AP course work. AP courses, modeled on rigorous, evidence-based standards, give students the preparation they need to not only enter college but to graduate. Research has shown that 45 percent of students who take one AP Exam graduate on time from college and 61 percent of students who take two or more AP exams graduate on time from college.

What is the Advanced Placement (AP) Program?

Advanced Placement (AP) is a program for college-level courses and exams that gives high school students the opportunity to receive advanced placement and/or credit in college. About 1.2 million students participate in the AP Program each year, usually through an AP course.

What are AP courses?

AP courses are introductory college courses, so they are not easy, but neither are they impossibly difficult.

An AP course will be more demanding than a regular high school course. They often require more time and work, but the AP courses give you greater depth. A student should realize that taking an AP class is a serious commitment. Students should give careful thought to which and how many AP courses to take in one year. The purpose of this booklet is to help students clearly understand course requirements and expectations.

Why take an AP Exam?

Satisfactory grades on AP examinations offer many benefits which may enhance your applications for college admissions, placement, and scholarships. You may also receive college credit based on your AP scores. If a student does not take the AP examination, they will not receive the quality point added to their GPA for that course on their transcript. AP exams are administered each year in May. An exam contains both multiple-choice and free-response questions that require essay writing, problem solving, critical thinking and other analytical skills.

Every examination receives an overall grade on a five-point scale.

Scale: 5 - Extremely well qualified 4 - well qualified 3 - qualified 2 - possibly qualified 1 - no recommendation

AP Grade Reports are sent in July to each student’s home address, high school, and if the student has requested it, to the designated colleges. Each college decides how much credit to award for AP scores. You can find this information for the college(s) you are interested in by using the AP Credit Policy search at

AP Information for Students

AP can change your life...and you don’t have to be one of the top students in your class!

Through college-level AP courses, you enter a universe of knowledge that might otherwise remain unexplored in high school; through AP Exams, you have the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at most of the nation’s colleges and universities.

Why Participate?

AP is not meant for everyone. Not only is a strong curiosity about the subject a requirement, but the willingness to work hard is essential. Here are just a few reasons to sign up:

  • Explore a variety of perspectives.

  • Study in greater depth and detail.

  • Assume the responsibility of reasoning, analyzing, and understanding.

Gain the Edge in College Preparation:

  • Improve your writing skills and sharpen your problem solving techniques.

  • Develop the study habits necessary for tackling rigorous course work.

Stand Out in the College Admissions Process:

  • Demonstrate your maturity and readiness for college.

  • Emphasize your commitment to academic excellence.

AP Information for Parents

The AP Program gives students a chance to try college-level work in high school and gain valuable study habits. Students earn a “qualifying” grade on an AP exam. There are thousands of colleges world-wide that will give them credit or advanced placement for their efforts. AP Exams and courses offer students a chance to:

  • Study a subject in greater depth

  • Know his/her capabilities

  • Gain a clearer idea of his/her future plans

  • Develop skills and study habits vital to college

  • Improve admissions eligibility

  • Prepare for the unexpected

  • Save money

  • Get a head start for college

  • Become eligible for Scholars Awards

Students should talk to their guidance counselors to see if AP courses are right for them.

Students and Parents

As students plan their schedules, they should also consider time commitments required in extracurricular and outside activities. Carefully review the course descriptions before you make your decisions. More information about AP can be found at