AP® (Advanced Placement) exams and courses offer academically motivated students the opportunity to inexpensively earn college credit. The College Board offers 38 AP Exams in the subject areas of English, history and government, science, math and computer science, arts, and world languages.
Each exam takes between two and three hours and can earn college credit with a qualifying score (at some colleges a score of 3, at others 4 or 5). While some colleges will give academic credits for AP Exams or allow students to bypass certain freshman courses, others will only give elective credit; it is up to each college as to how the exams are handled.
All AP Exams are offered on various dates and in various locations during the first two weeks of May. Results are available online in early July. Students may take as many AP Exams as they want and can also retake them the following May.
AP Exams receive a score of 1 to 5.
You can register here. New 2019 rules require that testing centers order their exams by November 15, so you must contact a participating school well before this deadline. Not all exams are offered at all locations.
We suggest that you begin your search for a testing center by contacting public schools and large private schools in your region. Survey the AP courses being offered to determine which schools to contact. Private schools tend to be more open to homeschooling students. Just as with the PSAT, some states’ laws require that the public schools allow homeschooled students to take AP Exams, while others do not. If you are an HSLDA member and a school will not accommodate your student, please contact us as early as possible for assistance.
At registration, you can designate one college to receive your student’s score report for free. This official score report contains the scores from every AP Exam that the student has ever taken, unless you specifically request that any scores be withheld. There is a fee of $15 for each additional score report requested, so you may want to only send results to the one college the student plans to attend. Colleges only accept scores directly from the test provider.
When taking AP tests, students must enter the homeschool code for their state. See the state code chart in the AP Coordinator's Manual.
While taking an official AP course (see below) can be very profitable, students are not required to take one in order to sit for an AP Exam. A student may study independently for the exam. You will find AP Exam information and practice questions by subject here.
AP (Advanced Placement) courses
Although AP courses are associated with AP tests, a student who takes an AP course is not necessarily expected to take the related test, and vice versa. While designed to prepare students for AP exams, these courses are beneficial in themselves.
AP courses offer college-bound teens opportunities to develop independent learning, study, and time management skills. Their college-level rigor, breadth of material covered, and GPA weighting on student transcripts make them desirable for ambitious teens who plan to apply to selective colleges.
AP courses are challenging and require 10–15 hours per week of study and preparation time. Because these courses use college-level materials, we recommend that most teens wait until 11th or 12th grade before taking any. Use 9th and 10th grade to test the waters with some honors courses in your student’s areas of strength.
AP and Advanced Placement are official trademarks of the College Board. A course labeled AP or Advanced Placement indicates that its content and syllabus have been approved by the College Board as meeting AP standards. Be aware that when a curriculum provider uses the phrase AP equivalent, the course cannot be designated AP on your student’s transcript. When listing courses on the high school transcript, include AP in the titles of College Board–approved courses only.
In a weighted high school GPA, official AP courses are typically weighted more heavily than other courses. (Their point scale is A=5, B=4, C=3, and D=2 in weighted GPA calculations.)
Links to more resources
- COVID-19 changes for 2020 exams: The College Board has not made its online AP testing available to homeschool
students for May 2020 testing. We're encouraging them to do so for 2021 AP testing.
- The AP website
- 2019-20 Bulletin for AP Students and Parents
- AP registration recommendations for homeschooled students
- How to obtain testing accommodations for your teen
AP® is a trademark registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this product.