Often it happens that students cannot cope with college’s coursework due to a lack of sufficient skills in hand. In 1955, authorities realized that the high school curriculum could not adequately equip students with skills needed to smoothly transition into doing coursework or graduation level studies. To bridge this learning gap, the concept of the AP (Advanced Placement) program was proposed and adopted. Several high schools and some online providers offer Advanced Placement Program to students who want to have college-grade credits earlier owing to several reasons.
A step-by-step guide to help students get into AP classes in high school is explained in this post. Before moving to the process, let’s explore all reasons that make the idea of AP classes appealing to students.
Why to look for AP classes?
The US College Board offers Advanced Placement class options to students who want to avail college-level curricula at the high school level. From the Board’s perspective, the reason was to pull up the students to level with the competencies of students from other parts of the world, especially the Soviet Union. Students found this program helpful for a few interesting reasons, such as:
- It helped prepare better for education beyond college.
- They could save on some graduation years and made their double major dream possible
- It helped them graduate early that meant saving on educational expenses and be job-ready sooner
- It helped pick an internship of their choice and gave a chance to explore more learning opportunities
Several veterans who could not do high school at the prescribed age could save more years and collect credits sooner to get into college education.
The popularity of the AP classes can be gauged from the fact that the number of students taking AP exams increased by approx. 65% in 2018. Students from low-income groups also showed interest in these exams and their participation almost doubled in the last decade. So, why stay behind and lack the opportunity of scoring credits for college courses earlier? Find below how to enroll in these classes.
Step by step procedure to enroll in AP classes
The AP classes are organized by high schools. You need to do a little research and find out if your high school is providing these classes or not. Another must-know is that there are about 38 courses for which AP classes are provided. So, you can check the Course Ledge here to find the subjects of your interest and enroll in those courses accordingly.
The overall procedure can be summed up as:
- Find the availability of AP classes at your high school
- Check the course index
- Talk to the teacher about joining the AP class. There is a fool-proof conversation starter to help you move into this important talk. You have to be clear, concise and confident about joining the AP course. This discussion helps you understand how you can fit in AP classes in your schedule and derive maximum benefits from those.
- In case the course of your choice is not provided in your school, reach out to an authorized online AP class provider. A counselor there can help you understand how to go about taking the AP class in the course of your choice.
- Know about the rules of joining the AP classes. Some high school may mandate you to take a placement test first to get into these classes.
- The AP course may be available at high school or can be availed from the College Board authorized online provider.
- The AP class is available for free. However, the AP exam costs $94 approx. per exam. The fee is reduced for the low-income students who can produce the proof of financial unavailability.
- Enquire about the schedule and furnish your intention to attend the classes on the chosen time.
Remember that AP class is an additional activity that you do along with your main curriculum. Hence, you must be available and prepared academically to take that extra burden.
How many AP classes can I take?
Considering the time available in hand, the students may take a maximum of 3 AP classes to prepare comfortably for the exam. However, the rules may vary from school to school. So, you must enquire about it from the concerned teacher.
Some colleges do consider the number of AP classes attended by the students. Nevertheless, there is no mandatory figure. Ivy League Colleges prefer students who have taken 7 to 12 AP classes during their high school term. The safer numbers at various levels to amplify your chances of getting into the colleges are:
- Junior level: 3 to 5 in core subjects
- Sophomore year: 2 to 3
- Freshmen: 1 to 2
Homeschooled students can approach the high schools of their area to join classes. They may self-study, too, to appear in AP exams.
When do AP exams take place?
You must know that to appear in AP exams, joining AP classes is not mandatory. However, the classes help you with topics that you find difficult to learn. The teachers guide on the exam contents and pattern to sail through the exam easily. The AP exams take place in three administration phases:
- Administration 1: First, second and third week of May. It is a paper and pencil exam organized at school
- Administration 2: Third and forth week of May. The test is given online at home.
- Administration 3: First and second week of June. It is online test to be given at home.
In 2022, the exams will be conducted between 4th May to 15th May. The late testing is scheduled between 20-22 May.
Subjects offered for AP Classes
AP Classes provide the college-level curriculum to get extra credits that can be used to shorten the graduation degree program duration. The exam takers can pick from the following subjects as per their interest:
- History and Social Science
- Math and Computer Science
- World Languages and Cultures
Approx. 8 AP classes on average are provided at US high schools.
The scoring of the exam is done on a grade system basis. Grades 1-5 are awarded to students as per their performance. Grade 5 denotes mastery in the subject. High scores in the AP exams can be exchanged for college credits and can help students jump to the second major or post-graduate program.
AP classes are for free. The only thing you need to ascertain is availability in the college and your availability to attend those. Which colleges you intend to join after high school determines the number of classes you may be expected to attend. However, the number of classes attended is not the final criterion. It simply gives a comfort level to authorities while selecting the deserving candidates. More than number of AP classes attended, it is the scores in the AP exams that matter. So, if you want that additional cushion to your preparations, start the AP class selection process at the earliest and get enrolled in them for the best outcomes.