How to Earn a Semester Off in College Using AP Credits Part 2

How AP Credits Work

When you register for an AP exam, you will have a chance to choose the college you would like your test results sent to. You will also receive your AP score report by mail as well as a list of the colleges to which your scores were sent. You can request to have your scores sent to additional colleges at a later date by contacting AP Score Reporting Services. There is a fee associated with this, and other score related, services.

Each individual college sets its own policy around AP exam score requirements. Each college will have its own written credit transfer policy as it relates to AP scores, and whether or not they will even accept AP test scores for college credit. Given that the AP program is well established in the US, most colleges and universities do offer some kind of credit or advanced placement for qualifying scores. How much, and for what kind of subjects and scores, will vary. A good general resource to obtain information about college and universities AP credit policies is available through the College Board. However, it is highly recommended you obtain a written copy of the AP credit policy of the college(s) you are interested in attending. Call your school of choice and ask to speak with a credit transfer department or advisor.

In general, a score of 3 or more will help you obtain some type of college credit at many institutions. However, since each school will have its own take on scores eligible for credit transfer, you’ll need to look at each school’s policy individually. Also, each school may have its own credit transfer number limits -- even though it is possible for students to earn multiple AP credits in different subject matters. The more AP courses and exams you test out of, the more college credits you can earn-- and the further along you will be on your college path. In fact, it is quite possible for someone who has taken multiple AP exams and received multiple qualifying exam scores at their college of choice to enter college a full semester (or more) ahead of schedule. Given that the average cost of college can run upwards to $28,500 per year in tuition and fees at a private nonprofit four-year college3, reducing the number of semesters you need to attend and pay tuition and other college costs for has serious cost savings implications.

Who Can Take AP Courses?

Anyone. Seriously. If your school doesn’t offer AP courses, or your are home-schooled, or are just experiencing scheduling conflicts within your high school, you can still take an AP course and sit for an AP exam.4 AP exams are offered May of each calendar year at participating AP schools.

Remember there’s a difference between taking the AP course and taking an AP exam. Just because you’ve taken an AP course does not mean you will be eligible for college credit. It is your exam scores that determine your credit eligibility. That being said, if you choose not to take an AP course through your high school or are home-schooled you could possibly learn the required material through independent study.

Alternatively, you may want to consider taking an AP course through an online course provider, like Straighterline.com. Taking an AP course online opens up your schedule to accommodate how, when and where you want to learn this challenging material. Taking an AP course online allows you to study the material at your own pace and to strategically align your course completion date closer to the AP exam dates. For some, completing an AP course in synchronicity with the exam date allows them more immediate memory access to material just studied.


3 College Board, What it Costs to Go to College, 2011 http://www.collegeboard.com/student/pay/add-it-up/4494.html

4 The College Board, AP: FAQ, 2012. http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/about_faq.html