How Do College Board AP Credits Work?

Instructor: Kristin Fromal

Kristin is a school counselor and has a Master's degree in Social Work.

Students have the opportunity to earn college credit or placement opportunities in college by taking Advanced Placement, or AP tests, administered each year by the College Board.

What is AP Credit?

Advanced Placement, or AP, is a program administered by the College Board. In this program, high schools offer rigorous, college-level courses in a variety of subject areas. The options will vary by school, but may include coursework in mathematics, sciences, social studies, English, and foreign languages and culture.

In May of each year, upon the completion of these courses, students are provided the opportunity to take AP exams. Often, the examinations are offered directly at a student's high school; or the student may need to visit a testing center. A team of highly qualified high school subject-area teachers and university professors scores the examinations.

Students who are homeschooled, or who attend a high school that does not offer AP courses, may self-study and take the relevant AP exams they desire.

How can I get College Credit for AP Exams?

When you decide what university is the best fit for you, be sure to have your score reports sent directly to the university from the College Board. Each university has an institutional code which you will provide to the College Board. Most colleges will need these direct score reports to consider your scores for college credit.

Once your score reports have been sent to the university, the registrar will review the report and line the scores up with equivalent introductory-level courses for the award of credit in those classes. These credits can replace general education or distribution area requirements.

Typically, to earn college credit for the AP exams, you will need to earn a minimum score on the test. Each individual university sets its own policies regarding what score is required for college credit, and scores from three to five may be acceptable. Higher scores may result in the award of more credit. Some universities do set a maximum amount of credit that can be earned through AP tests.

Your AP journey has likely begun with taking the corresponding class through your high school program, or through self-study if you are homeschooled. In addition to this coursework, you will want to prepare and review for the exam on your own. As AP exams are offered only once per year, in May, it's essential to be sure that you are properly prepared for the test. offers study guides for more than 20 of the most popular AP exams, including study guides, practice tests designed to assess your skills and weaknesses, and additional practice questions. You can browse all the courses here , or link directly to some of our most popular AP exam prep courses, including:

What Other Ways are AP Scores Used?

In addition to being used for the award of credit, AP scores may be used for placement in college-level courses, particularly in foreign languages and mathematics. This allows students to step directly into higher-level courses in areas where they excel, as opposed to taking entry-level classes. AP courses may also be used to invite students to honors classes based on their scores.

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

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