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Everything You Need to Know About AP Tests: Deadlines, Scoring Policies & More

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AP tests can earn you college credit and look great on your transcript, but they also require preparation and can cause stress. Read on to learn about deadlines, scoring policies and other AP test details so you can focus on studying and earning the best score possible on your exam!

AP Tests: General Info

AP test dates are typically scheduled for May. If your AP course requires submission of materials, or if you want to know when your AP test will take place, check out the full AP calendar from the College Board.

In addition to the exam dates, you should familiarize yourself with the registration deadlines and scoring policies for AP tests. For information about what to bring to the exam, the College Board offers a helpful list of prohibited items.

Registration Deadlines

If you're taking a high school AP class, you probably won't have to worry about the registration deadlines, as your teacher will take care of the details. However, it's a good idea to check in with him or her to be sure. And if you need testing accommodations, please note that students with disabilities have to submit requests for accommodations by February 23.

Students who attend high schools without AP courses, or homeschooled students, can download a PDF of test details. These students should keep the following deadlines in mind:

  • March 1: Contact AP Services for a list of local schools where you can arrange to test.
  • March 15: Contact the coordinators for the schools identified by AP Services.

pen circling important calendar deadline for AP test

Scoring Policies

AP tests are scored on a 1-5 scale, with 5 as the highest score. For most exams, scores are determined by your responses to multiple-choice and free-response questions.

Multiple-choice and free-response scores are combined into a composite score. The composite score then translates to a 1-5 score, which is your final AP test score. You'll probably receive your final AP scores in July.

  • Multiple-choice questions: Students earn points for correctly answering multiple-choice questions. There are no point deductions for blank or incorrect answers. The multiple-choice section is graded by a computer.
  • Free-response questions: The responses to these questions are graded at the AP Reading, which is held during the first two weeks of June. College and high school faculty score this section of the exam.

While some exams weight the sections equally, that is not always the case. To find out how the sections of an exam will be weighted, click on your AP course, and then click on the course overview, which will explain the number of questions, the amount of time allotted for each section and how the sections are weighted.

high school students taking AP test at desks during AP exam

Fees

AP tests aren't free. Students submit payments to the school administering the test, which in turn pays the College Board. Most exams cost $94 each, but fee waivers and reductions may be available for qualified students. Fee details are available through the College Board.

Benefits

So why would a student choose to take an AP test? Well, there are a few reasons:

  • College credit: If you do well enough on your exam, you may earn college credit, making the cost of the test a good deal! Most colleges and universities grant AP exam credit for a 4 or 5 score. If you want to learn about the credit policy at a certain college, the College Board offers an AP credit policy search feature.
  • College admissions: Most college admissions offices aren't going to see a senior's final AP score, as it won't be released until July, well after the admissions cycle has ended. However, many admissions offices consider a student's strength of schedule, aka the courses taken while in high school. Taking an AP course shows that you're willing to challenge and push yourself academically.

high school teenager answering free response questions during ap test at desk with pen

AP Test Prep

If you're taking an AP course, talk to your teacher about your exam concerns and ask questions! As your teacher may attend the scoring event in June, he or she can provide you with important insights. In addition to AP exam prep books available for purchase, the College Board offers free exam practice activities, which include sample questions and tips. These resources can not only help you study, but also acclimate you to the format of the exam, preparation that can serve to reduce overall test stress.

Need additional help preparing for AP tests? Study.com offers video lessons, quizzes and tests to help you get ready for your AP exam!

By Michelle Garrigan-Durant
November 2018

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