Advanced Placement

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The Advanced Placement (AP) program is directed by College Board,[1] and used in most American high schools.

There are currently 37 AP exams. After a student completes a course, he may take the AP exam in that subject. The AP exams are typically offered on specific dates in the month of May. High schools usually weigh a student's grade in an AP class on a 6-point scale instead of the normal 4-point scale or 5-point Honors scale. The AP exams are graded on a 5-point scale. Most colleges and universities will offer college credit for exam scores of 3 or higher, depending on admission policy.

In order for a course to be designated "AP", it must go through the College Board's AP Course Audit process. Schools develop their own curricula for courses labeled “AP”; the AP Course Audit specifies a set of expectations established by college and university faculty for college-level courses. Courses that meet or exceed these expectations may be authorized to use the “AP” designation.[2] Homeschool educators may also use this process in order to label their courses "AP".[3] However, any student can take an AP exam, even if he has not taken an AP course, even if he is homeschooled, and even if his school does not offer AP courses. Most schools that offer an AP exam are required to let anyone take it.

All AP exams are graded together by AP teachers and college professors from across the nation. After the initial grading, raw scores are curved to get the 1-5 scale that the student and college receives. This means that the number of correct answers needed to earn a specific score varies from year to year. It also means that school administrators cannot influence a particular student's score. As Jerry Jessness wrote, "No student, not even a star athlete, can negotiate a higher grade on an A.P. exam."[4]

List of AP Exams


  2. AP Course Audit Information
  3. AP Central: Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Why Johnny Can't Fail: How the "floating standard" has destroyed public education