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How AP Courses and Exam Can Help You with College

What do I need to know about AP courses?

Advanced Placement courses, or AP courses, are college-level classes you can take in high school. In the 1950s, Ford Foundation pushed to allow capable high school students to take college level classes and earn college credits. That eventually became the AP program. Later, the College Board took over to offer guidance for the curriculum and administer the official AP Exam.

Among all level courses in high school, AP are the most advanced. Usually schools require a good grade on lower-level classes before allowing you to take an AP course. Doing well in AP is a way to show off your academic ability to colleges. From our experience at Marlboro Learning Center, you need to take at least 5 AP courses to be competitive when applying to selective universities.

The number of students who took the AP exams exploded from 2.9 million in 2009 to 5 million in 2019.[1] There are even more students who took the class but did not take the exam. Recently the College Board eliminated SATII subject tests, citing the increasing popularity of AP courses as the reason. The AP program has expanded from the initial 10 courses to 38 courses today. Most schools don’t offer all 38 though.

Why should I bother to take the AP Exam administered by College Board?

Your school will evaluate your AP class performance as any other classes, usually using a combination of homework, quizzes and test to determine your final mark. In addition, there are official AP Exams administered by College Board. During a normal year, official AP Exams take place during the first two weeks of May. The results are graded on a scale of 1 to 5:

  • 5 – Extremely well qualified (for college credits)

  • 4 – Well qualified

  • 3 – Qualified

  • 2 – Possibly qualified

  • 1 – No recommendation

Getting a good grade from your school for the AP class is not enough to prove that you have mastered the subject at the college level. Colleges reward credits to you or allow you to skip the introductory level course only if you do well on the AP Exam. A score of 3 is the lowest you need to earn college credits. In recent years, many colleges require a score of 4 or 5.

Independent studies have shown that students who took AP courses but failed to get high AP Exam scores had no better understanding of the subject than students who took lower-level courses. Students who passed the AP Exam with high scores, on the other hand, did better [2, 3]. As the AP classes get more popular, colleges are relying more on the official AP Exam to judge if you truly mastered a subject. A good score can also boost your chances to get scholarships. So even if you apply to a college that does not give credit regardless of AP Exam results, a high score can still help.

Marlboro Learning Center holds AP classes for English, Math

, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. You can benefit from our classes if:

  • you are taking AP Classes at school and need help to get a better score;

  • you want to take an AP course not offered at your school;

  • you cannot take the AP course in your school due to schedule conflict or missed pre-requisite qualification.

  • you are homeschooled but want to take an AP class and prepare for AP Exam

No matter what is your reason, our experienced teachers will help you master the subject and learn the strategies to pass the exam confidently.

2. Ackerman, Phillip; Kanfer, Ruth; Calderwood, Charles (2013). "High school Advanced Placement and student performance in college: STEM majors, non-STEM majors, and gender differences". Teachers College Record. 115 (10): 1–43.

3. Hood, Lucy; Sadler, Philip M. (2010). "Putting AP to the Test: New research assesses the Advanced Placement program". Harvard Education Letter. 26(May/June 2010). Retrieved November 7, 2012.

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