Advanced Placement Test Overview

Advanced Placement tests are an excellent way of making the most of your high school education in order to get as much benefit as possible from your college education. Do you want to study abroad for a semester or two? Or maybe you want to graduate a year or more ahead of the official four year schedule? Maybe you would like to skip a lot of boring introductory classes and focus on advanced classes in your chosen major? For that matter, you might be one of those persons who would like to graduate with a double major.

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Or maybe none of these apply to you; you’d simply like to save as much money as you can on the cost of a college education, even thousands of dollars if possible. Well, no matter which of these categories you fall into, AP tests can help you achieve your dreams. By taking advantage of them, you can save money, free up time for optional or advanced studies, or both.

AP tests are exams designed to measure a person’s grasp of a particular subject area. Passing one of these exams certifies that you have achieved a level of learning commensurate with that of a student who has passed college classes in the subject. Most of the tests cover freshman level subject matter, but several of them are for sophomore level courses.

The tests cover such subjects as Art History, Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Chinese Language and Culture, Computer Science, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Environmental Science, European History, French, German, Comparative Government and Politics, US Government and Politics, Geography, Italian Language and Culture, Japanese Language and Culture, Latin (Vergil), Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Music Theory, Physics, Psychology, Spanish Language, Spanish Literature, Statistics, Studio Art, US History, and World History.

Not all colleges and universities accept AP test credits, but most do. The fee for taking each exam is $87; much cheaper than paying for a semester of classes. There is financial aid available from the College Board (which designs and administers the tests), and from the government, which can greatly reduce the cost of taking an exam. A person can take specialized AP courses in high school if their school offers them, but it’s not necessary to take a course to take the exam.

Many people have mastered a subject through their own independent reading without taking the Advanced Placement courses and can pass an exam on their own. There are also excellent study guides, practice tests and other materials available to help a person pass AP exams. The exams are one of the best tools available for maximizing the time you spend in college; you should take as many of them as you think you have a reasonable chance of passing, and use the time and money you free up with the credits you earn to get as much out of your college degree as possible. It’s entirely possible to earn a year’s worth of college credits, or even more, simply by taking AP exams.

AP Self-Assessment Modules