The Advanced Placement Program (AP)
The AP program allows academically prepared students to take college-level courses. Many colleges give college credit to students who earn a score of 4 or 5 on AP exams.
The Advantages of Taking AP Courses
- Earning college credit in high school saves both time and money.
To research the colleges you are interested in for their rules about APs, go to
- AP courses can raise your weighted GPA, but they should be chosen very carefully.
AP courses are harder than regular classes. Only take an AP class if you are strong in that subject. Most important, do not take an AP exam if you have not taken a corresponding AP class in school. AP exams are harder than SAT subject test exams. If you have not taken the AP class, you will most probably get a low score on the exam, which will not look good on your college application.
- High AP exams scores allow you to demonstrate your academic strengths to college admission officers.
Take AP exams in your strongest subjects, right after you have taken the corresponding classes. Avoid AP exams in subjects that might be impressive but in which a high score would be unlikely.
To find the full list of AP exams go to:
The AP English Program
The AP program has two English classes that give high school students the opportunity to take an introductory-level college English class.
- The AP English Language and Composition course is designed to develop argumentative writing skills and analytical reading skills applied to nonfiction texts. The corresponding AP exam tests those skills.
- The AP English Literature and Composition course focuses on reading, analyzing, and writing about novels, plays, and poetry from various historical periods. The corresponding AP exam tests those skills.
High schools usually offer one or both courses.
The AP English courses are designed to develop the reading and writing skills that are necessary to thrive in the college environment where reading and writing increase in complexity and are required in most courses. In college, you will be required to take humanities classes such as art history, philosophy, or history as well as social science classes such as sociology or anthropology as part of a well-rounded undergraduate education no matter what major you choose (math, biology, computer science, etc.). Those classes, and some STEM classes, require reading and writing at a higher level than high school reading and writing.
For an overview of the skills developed in English AP courses go to
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