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Advanced Placement (AP)

Advanced Placement (AP) is a program in the United States and Canada created by the College Board which offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students. American colleges and universities may grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores on the examinations. The AP curriculum for each of the various subjects is created for the College Board by a panel of experts and college-level educators in that field of study. For a high school course to have the designation, the course must be audited by the College Board to ascertain that it satisfies the AP curriculum.


Taking AP courses may allow you to learn college credit while in high school.  Qualifying AP scores will help you begin college at an advanced level. 

What is Advanced Placement (AP)?

AP gives students the opportunity to tackle college-level work while they're still in high school and earn college credit and placement “Advanced Placement” (AP) is a program of college-level courses offered at all high schools within Montgomery Public School System (MPS).   Course offerings and availability, which may include English, history, humanities, languages, math, psychology and science, varies at each high school. 

Advanced Placement is for academically driven students who plan to attend two-or four-year colleges/universities after high school.  Advanced Placement courses are accelerated in rigor and pace so the focus is not on memorizing facts and figures. It's on engaging discussions, approaching and solving problems together and learning to write well. AP allows students to complete college level studies while in high school.


What are the benefits of taking AP courses?

AP courses can help you gain the skills and study habits you'll need to be successful in college. You'll improve your writing, problem-solving, time-management skills, and learn how to stay focused on your work and goals. Research shows that AP courses help students graduate from college in four years and qualify for scholarships.

AP courses can also help you get accepted into college. It's less about taking the easy classes and earning an "A" than it is about showing colleges that you're willing to take a challenging class, even if it lowers your grade point average. This makes you stand out in the admission process. It also shows that you are taking the initiative to prepare yourself for college-level work.

Who can take AP courses?

Your high school may require you to have a minimum grade point average or have taken certain classes before they allow you to take AP courses. However, don’t assume that you aren’t ready for AP courses. Check with your teachers or your high school counselor to find out which courses are right for you.

How do I take AP courses?

Most students take AP courses offered through their high school. Check with your school counselor to find out if your school offers them.

What are AP Exams?  Can I take an AP exam without taking the course?

AP Exams are basically a test of all you learn in an AP class. You may earn college credit if you achieve a qualifying score of a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP exam.  Exams are usually administered in May and are scored on a scale from 1-5.    

While it's possible to skip an AP class and study for an AP exam independently, it's strongly recommended you take the class. AP classes are specifically designed to help students prepare for the AP exams.  Taking an AP course and achieving a qualifying score on the test is a sign that you are capable of handling college-level work, which will strengthen your college applications immensely.

How do I earn college credit?

AP classes don't just earn you high school credit. You may also earn college credit if you take an AP exam at the end of the course AND earn a qualifying score of 3, 4, or 5.  Most colleges and universities consider a qualifying score of three (3) an indicator of your ability to do successful college work.  If the college you apply to accepts the qualifying score you made, you'll be able to move into upper-level courses sooner. That saves you time and money.

You have to send your AP scores to each college for them to determine what you are eligible to receive. Most four-year colleges in the United States, as well as colleges in more than 60 other countries, accept AP scores. Policies vary from college to college so it is important to do your research ahead of time. Use the links below to find AP policies for U.S. and International schools.

·         View AP policy for U.S. schools

·         View AP policy for International schools

If you're having trouble finding information or understanding it, ask your school counselor for help.

How much does it cost?

AP courses are free, but AP exam cost varies.  Check with your high school counselor for additional information.

Where can I find more information about AP?

The College Board runs the Advanced Placement program.  The following links contain additional information:



Also be sure to check with your school counselor, who can provide all the information you need about AP courses at your high school.