What Is an AP Exam?

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  • 0:02 AP Exams
  • 1:43 Info on AP Exams
  • 3:12 Info on College Acceptance
  • 4:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Many students take Advanced Placement exams to save time and money when they get to college. But what, exactly are AP exams, and what should students know about them? Watch this lesson for an overview of AP exams.

AP Exams

Dora is in high school, and she's starting to think about college in a couple of years. Her guidance counselor suggested that she think about taking AP exams, but Dora isn't exactly sure what AP exams are or why she should take them.

Advanced Placement exams, also called AP exams, are tests that allow a person to get college credit for taking (and passing) the test. They are put out by a company called the College Board, which is the same company that puts out the SAT test.

Usually, students, like Dora, take a class that prepares them to take AP exams, and then they take the exam at the end of the year. The exams test the same knowledge that a student would have if she took a college class in the subject. For example, if she takes the AP exam in psychology, the test would cover the information she would learn in an intro to psychology class at a college.

There are several advantages for Dora if she decides to take AP exams. First, it looks good on college applications. Each AP exam that she takes shows the college she's applying to that she's really serious about her studies.

Second, AP exams can save time and money. Because most colleges accept AP exams in lieu of certain classes, she might not have to take as many classes in college if she passes the tests. For example, if she passes the AP exam in U.S. history, she might not have to take a history class.

Let's take a closer look at information that Dora should know about AP exams in general and information that she needs to understand about how colleges accept AP exams.

Info on AP Exams

OK, Dora is convinced. She's decided that she should take some AP exams. But which exams? And what does she need to know to pass them?

There are many different types of AP exams. From English to math, history to psychology, foreign languages to music and art, Dora has a lot of choices! She'd do well to narrow her choices down to the courses that her potential colleges would require. For example, if the college she wants to go to requires that she take a history class, but not a music class, she'd be better off taking an AP exam in a history subject than a music exam.

The next thing that Dora needs to know is that there are different requirements for each AP exam. For example, the U.S. history AP exam has different types of questions than the AP exam in French language and culture. Even within the same general topic, exams vary. For example, the U.S. history exam has a different format than the world history AP exam.

So where can Dora find information about the AP exams she wants to take? There are three places for good information: the College Board website, which is the website of the company that puts out the AP exams; online resources, like tutorials; and teachers and guidance counselors at Dora's school. All of those are places she can go to find information about specific AP exam requirements.

Info on College Acceptance

Great! So Dora knows that she's going to take some AP exams, and she knows where to get information about how to prepare for those exams. That's it, right? She's ready to rock and roll!

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