Advanced Placement

3 Reasons to Take AP Exams

Every spring, millions of students around the world take their AP Exams─finishing what they started and taking the opportunity to stand out to colleges and scholarship organizations. Now it’s your turn to finish the year strong. And if it’s your first time taking an AP Exam, learn what to expect so that you’ll feel confident on test day.

Here are three reasons to take your AP Exams:

1. Get the Credit You Earned

Earning college credit or placement while you’re in high school can save you time and money in the future. You can only earn college credit or advanced placement if you complete an AP Exam.

Three out of four AP students enrolled in a four-year college or university start school with some AP credit. This gives you the flexibility to change majors, pursue a second degree, or study abroad. By skipping introductory college classes, you can free up time for courses you’re interested in and have the chance to graduate early.

Most colleges grant credit, advanced placement, or both for qualifying AP Exam scores. Use our Credit Policy Search tool to explore the schools that you’re interested in and learn how you can save money before even setting foot on campus.

"The great thing about taking AP Exams is that I was able to earn 15 college credit hours which is equivalent to an entire semester. That gave me a cushion to be able to take less classes each semester and explore other classes I was interested in.”

—Melissa, AP alum, Columbia University

2. All AP Exams Have Benefits

Completing an AP course and exam means you’ll have taken college-level coursework in high school. No matter your score, preparing for and taking your AP Exam sharpens skills you need to transition from high school to college. Research shows that students who take AP courses and exams have better college outcomes than their peers. Whatever your score, taking an AP Exam can keep you on track for college.

  • The majority of students who score a 1 or 2 on their first AP Exam are likely to improve their score on a future exam.
  • Students who achieve an exam score of 2 do significantly better in introductory college classes.
  • Students who achieve exam scores of 1 or 2 are still more likely to attend college and graduate on time (than academically similar students who don’t take AP).

Use these free resources to help you prepare for your AP Exams.

“AP students are intellectually curious, disciplined, and incredibly resilient. You are the type of people who will follow through on things you’ve started.”

—Minh-Ha Hoang, director of admissions and enrollment, University of San Diego

3. Stand Out to Colleges, Universities, and Scholarship Programs

Taking an AP Exam helps you stand out to colleges, universities, and scholarship programs by showing them you’re willing to work hard to complete college-level work.

Unlock even more college and scholarship opportunities by completing your AP Exams and opting in to Student Search Service, which connects you to scholarship programs and colleges across the country. Students who are contacted by colleges through Student Search Service receive, on average, 29% more offers of college admission. Additionally, 85% of selective colleges and universities report that a student’s AP experience favorably impacts admissions decisions. [1]

You’ve worked hard to master the material in your AP courses — and one way for you to demonstrate what you’ve learned is to take your AP Exams in May. Taking your exams can also show admissions officers like me that you’re ready for college-level work

Ronné P. Turner, vice provost for admissions and financial aid, Washington University in St. Louis

[1] Unpublished institutional research, Crux Research Inc, March 2007.