The Low Down on AP Tests
What are AP Tests?
AP (or Advanced Placement) tests are standardized subject tests used to evaluate students’ mastery of AP course material. They allow for consistent scoring of students to account for differences in course difficulty among AP classes held across the country and world. AP tests cover a wide range of subjects which include:
AP Physics, Chemistry, Biology
AP Calculus AB and BC, AP Statistics
AP Psychology, US History, World History, US Government, Microeconomics
AP English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition
AP Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Latin
And many more...
Testing sessions are two to three hours long, depending on the subject, and consist of a multiple choice and a free response portion.
Why Take an AP Test?
Many colleges offer credit for exceptional AP Test scores. This can allow you to enter college already having completed a certain number of credits, saving you time and money. In fact, it is possible to earn a semester’s worth of AP credits! Also, AP credits can fulfill elective requirements or allow you to place out of introductory classes in your major.
- College admissions counselors often take the number of AP classes and the scores earned into account when reviewing your application. Additionally, earning a 3 or higher score on three or more - AP exams makes you eligible for an AP scholar award. These awards include:
- AP Scholar Award: earn a score of 3 or higher on three AP Exams
- AP Scholar with Honor: earn an average score of 3.25 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more AP exams
- AP Scholar with Distinction: earn an average score of 3.5 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more AP exams
Though these awards do not include a scholarship award, they make your application more appealing to admissions counselors and can improve your chances of getting into a reach-school as well as increase the likelihood that that you will be awarded scholarship money by colleges.
When is the Test?
AP Tests are held in May. The testing blocks for 2019 run from May 6th-May 10th and May 13th-May 17th. Each subject test has its own date and time slot, which is the same for every testing location around the world. Tests are held either in the 8am or 12pm time slot, and if you are taking more than one test, it is possible that they can be held back to back. It is important to know the dates and times of each of your tests, which can be found on the College Board website here.
How Do I Sign Up?
Many students take the corresponding AP class to prepare for an AP Test. If you are already taking an AP course, talk to your AP teacher or AP coordinator about signing up for the exam. If you are not currently enrolled in an AP course, or your school does not offer the AP course that you are interested in, it is still possible for you to sign up for the test. Talk to your guidance counselor about helping you get in contact with AP Services. An AP coordinator will then find you a testing location and make sure that there is a test available for you. You must get in contact with an AP coordinator before March 15th if you plan on taking any AP tests in May of 2019.
When registering to take an AP Test, you will also have to pay all associated fees. Each exam costs $94. There are fee reductions available for students with financial need. If you believe this applies to you, you should contact your AP Coordinator for more details.
More information about fees:
How are AP Tests Scored?
AP scores are used to determine your level of mastery of course material and will be used by colleges to determine whether or not you should receive college credits. Graders combine scores from the multiple choice and free response sections of your test to give you a final score. All AP tests are scored on a scale of 1 to 5:
5 = Extremely Well Qualified
4 = Well Qualified
3 = Qualified
2 = Possibly Qualified
1 = No Recommendation
The majority of colleges that offer credit for AP courses will accept a score of 4 or 5. It is important to check the AP policies of each college that you apply to and make sure you are well informed about their requirements. Some colleges also give a letter grade for AP credits earned, which is applied to your college GPA. Generally:
5 = A+, A
4 = A-, B+, B
3 = B-, C+, C
Keep in mind, you DO NOT have to get a perfect score to earn a 5 on an AP Test. Depending on the difficulty of the subject, you can earn a 5 by getting at least 70-80% of multiple choice questions correct in conjunction with good essay section responses. Also, there is no penalty for wrong answers in the multiple choice section, so don’t be afraid to guess if you are unsure of an answer or run out of time. There is no benefit in leaving any questions blank.
How Do I Prepare for an AP Test?
Take good notes throughout the course: If you are enrolled in an AP course, it is important that you don’t just forget about the material you’ve covered after each test. All of the subject material you’ve learned will be tested in the AP exam, so it is important to take good notes and study them periodically throughout the year
Start studying early: It is important to take plenty of time before the AP test to prepare, especially if you are taking more than one. It is suggested that you start seriously studying AP test material about 2-3 months before your exam date, but of course it doesn’t hurt to start even earlier!
Set up a study schedule: It may be hard to keep yourself on track when you have to study for multiple AP tests, and it may at times feel overwhelming. Setting aside a few hours each week for each AP tests can help keep you focused. Having a study schedule can help you feel confident that you are splitting your time evenly and giving enough attention to each subject.
Use outside resources: There are many test prep resources available for each AP subject including prep books, videos, and practice questions: https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/takingtheexam/preparing-for-exams
Get help from a tutor: Studying for AP tests alone can be a daunting task. An experienced tutor can help keep you on schedule, review past material, and make sure that you are completely confident going into test day.
Still have questions? The experienced academic consultants at Astute Academics are here to help! Visit our website www.astuteacademics.com or call 973-908-0741 to schedule an appointment.