AP Exams: What are they?

For the last few weeks, a number of Prep senior high students have been going through the intense pressure of exams. Not their Prep exams, but their AP Exams.

AP stands for Advanced Placement, which is a program in the US and Canada which offers college-level curricula and exams to high school students. American colleges and universities may grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores (three or higher) on the exams. AP exams are college-level tests administered by The College Board (makers of the SAT). Students may take tests in one or more subjects.

At Jackson Prep, if the student is enrolled in the course, the AP test is required. Not  all schools, however, require students who take the class to take the exam.

AP exams are scored on a scale of one to five. A score of five means the student is extremely well qualified to receive college credit for that course, being the highest score possible. A score of four means that the student is well qualified and a score of three means the student is still qualified, or has passed. A score below three does not constitute college credit for the course. Advanced placement that is awarded based on your AP exam scores allows you to skip introductory classes and even enter higher-level college classes.  Advanced “Placement” is not the same thing as credit, which means you actually are earning points toward your college degree.

Most of the AP exams last between three to four hours. A student does not need to be enrolled in an AP class to take the exam, although research by the College Board shows that students who take the courses beforehand do significantly better on the exams, and are therefore more likely to earn AP credits.

High grades and scores in an AP class indicate to colleges that you are a driven student who is capable of working at a high level (and coping with high levels of stress). This can help give students an edge to applying for competitive scholarships or applying to prestigious, competitive colleges.

Senior Sarah Riley Jicka said, “”Last year, I took AP Physics, AP English, and AP US History. I got my scores back around late June, and I was pretty satisfied with how everything went.”

Junior Elizabeth Stephenson took the AP US History exam on May 4, and said, “I have spent countless hours highlighting a 62 page study guide. It’s a lot of information but it’s worth it for the college credit.”