The number of students who enroll in advanced placement (AP) courses each year has increased dramatically in recent years. The number of students who took at least one AP exam in 2018—roughly 1.24 million students—was 65% higher than the number of students who did so in 2008.
Taking an AP course—and the exam connected to the course—offers numerous benefits. You might wonder, though: is it worth the time and effort necessary to get ready for the test?
Here are a few reasons why you might want to register for the exams this fall.
Gain an Advantage in the College Admissions Process
Completing an AP course and exam offers several advantages for your academic career. Like other standardized tests, the AP exam helps you polish useful skills like time management and critical thinking. It can also help you brush up on your scholarly writing, which will be very important in college.
Let’s say you don’t get the score you wanted the first time. That’s fine; the data shows that the majority of students who score low on their first AP exam will do better on their next exam. Plus, students who manage to score 2 or better on an AP exam are shown to do significantly better during their first semesters in college.
Even if you are unsure of your abilities, taking the AP exam can still be worth the time spent. It will help prepare you for college and make that first step into post-secondary education seem less daunting, regardless of your results.
Plus, most colleges look at AP classes as a factor in the admissions process. If you’ve taken at least one AP exam, this would give you a significant advantage over the competition. It shows the admissions officer that you’re motivated, committed, and that you care about your education.
Still not enough reason to sign up for your AP exam? Here’s one area where taking the test can really help: your wallet.
Earning a 3 or higher on an AP exam lets you earn college credit and/or placement in the relevant subject. For example, let’s say you score a 4 on an AP English exam. This may give you the opportunity to either claim credit hours for your college composition class, or simply skip the credit requirement entirely.
When you start college, you have to pay for each course based on credit hours. For example, a typical semester course might be three credit hours. If you can skip those credit requirements by testing out in an AP class, you wouldn’t have to pay to take that college course. You save money, and may get to earn your degree more quickly.
Earn college credit before you graduate gives you more flexibility. It may be the deciding factor that lets you change majors later if you want to, or pursue a double major. You may even be able study in another country for a semester because you have those credits under your belt.
If you have additional questions about AP exams, including which classes allow you to gain college credit, you should talk to your advisor at school. Considering all the benefits, this is an opportunity that you really shouldn’t pass up.