What is the Advanced Placement Program?

The AP Program is a challenging academic program designed to provide motivated students with college-level academic courses.  Established in 1955 by the College Board, the AP Program is a cooperative educational endeavor between secondary schools and colleges and universities. High school students who complete AP courses demonstrate their mastery of subject material by earning qualifying grades on AP Examinations.

AP is considered a standard for academic excellence in the U.S., where nearly 60 % of secondary schools participate in the program. AP courses with qualifying exam grades are accepted for credit, advanced placement, or both, by most American colleges and universities. In addition, AP courses and exam grades are used in the admissions process in more than 400 universities outside the United States.

How do colleges and universities recognize AP courses?

Approximately 3,000 North American universities recognize AP courses and examinations. Students presenting qualifying grades on AP Exams (a "3" or higher) may earn anywhere from 3 to 6 credits (for a single course) to one year of college credit, and, on occasion, two years of credit, thereby earning second-year and sometimes third-year standing.

As universities in the United States and abroad differ regarding the exact nature of their acceptance policies, AP students are advised to inquire directly at the universities concerning their respective policies for specific AP Examinations.

AP courses and qualifying grades are also used as acceptance and admissions criteria by an increasing number of universities in identifying high-performing and highly motivated students. By taking AP courses, students demonstrate their mastery of a subject and their ability to work at the academic level required in higher education.

Why choose AP?

Extensive Recognition

AP is recognized by approximately 3,000 American colleges and universities, which grant credit, advanced placement, or both for AP courses and exam grades. More than 400 additional universities in 27 countries also recognize AP courses and exam grades in the admissions process. Colleges and universities recognize the value of AP for preparing students to succeed in rigorous university courses.

Affordability and Flexibility

AP is affordable, the only fee being the $87 per examination, $22 of which may be waived in cases of economic need. AP offers flexibility for schools, which can offer one or many AP courses, and different AP courses from year to year. AP also offers flexibility for teachers, who have latitude to determine their own curricula within the governing curricular framework established by the College Board.

Access and Equity

AP promotes open access to students who may excel in only one or two academic disciplines; however, the program also allows for complete emersion by highly motivated and academically inclined students. The AP Program is designed to give all students an opportunity to challenge themselves with a rigorous academic experience. It is standing policy of the College Board for all AP-participating institutions to allow for "open" enrollment in all AP-designated courses. The practice of gate-keeping is highly discouraged.

Exam Reliability and University Standards

AP emphasizes statistical exam reliability to ensure fairness in scoring, along with results that can be trusted by students, schools, and universities. Through regular surveys and comparability studies, the AP Program ensures that courses and examinations reflect actual university-level standards. Prior to any course being registered with the AP endorsement, the course must first be recognized via the College Board AP Course Audit; likewise, only those instructors who have received additional certification through the College Board may be allowed to teach the respective courses.


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