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Advanced Placement (AP) Exams 


What are AP exams? 

AP exams are college-level standardized tests which are offered to high school students in May of each year and which assess whether a student has mastered a particular subject. It’s important to keep in mind that students who do not take an AP class for a particular subject are, nonetheless, eligible to take the AP exam for that subject.   

A “5” is the highest score possible on an AP exam, and colleges and universities often grant course credits to students who have earned a “4” or a “5” on an AP test. In some instances, students with a “4” or a “5” will get to use their AP score to skip a college prerequisite class. That in mind, doing well on AP exams often saves a student both time and money, and, in some cases, enables the student to bypass classes covering subject matter that they already know.     


Does getting a stellar score on an AP exam increase a student’s chances of getting into a college or university? 

Sometimes. The admissions committees of the most competitive colleges and universities often focus on seemingly small differences in students’ applications, because at these schools the number of impressive applicants always dwarfs the number of acceptances. Students vying for acceptance at the most competitive colleges and universities should view an AP exam as an opportunity. A “5” on an AP exam can help students differentiate themselves from other impressive applicants within an extremely competitive applicant pool.         


When should a student start studying? 

It very much depends. 

Students who are not going to take a particular AP class, or even a less advanced level of that class, but who still want to take the AP exam, should, in general, start studying the August prior to the May in which the student will take the exam. This will give them enough time, as long as they diligently work on a weekly basis, to cover all of the material that they need to.


Students who take a semester-long AP class during the first semester should start studying for the AP exam right after that semester ends. For students who are consistently averaging an “A” in a year-long AP class, it’s usually ideal for them to take a practice test 2.5 months prior to the exam and start studying very soon afterwards. For students who are consistently averaging a “B” in a full-year AP class, it’s usually ideal for them to take a practice test 3 months before the exam and start studying very soon afterwards. If a student is averaging a “C”, they shouldn’t focus on preparing for the AP exam until they’ve brought their average up to at least a “B”.        


How Long Is Each AP Exam?

African American Studies Pilot Program

Art History   3 Hours

Biology   3 Hours

Calculus AB   3 Hours, 15 Minutes

Calculus BC   3 Hours, 15 Minutes

Chemistry   3 Hours, 15 Minutes

Chinese Language and Culture   2 Hours, 15 Minutes

Comparative Government and Politics   2 Hours, 25 Minutes

Computer Science A   3 Hours

Computer Science Principles   2 Hours

English Language and Composition   3 Hours, 15 Minutes

English Literature and Composition   3 Hours

Environmental Science   3 Hours

European History   3 Hours, 15 Minutes

French Language and Culture   3 Hours

German Language and Culture   3 Hours

Human Geography   2 Hours, 15 Minutes

Italian Language and Culture   3 Hours

Japanese Language and Culture   2 Hours, 15 Minutes

Latin   3 Hours

Macroeconomics   2 Hours, 10 Minutes

Microeconomics   2 Hours, 10 Minutes

Music Theory   2 Hours, 40 Minutes

Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism   1 Hour, 30 Minutes

Physics C: Mechanics   1 Hour, 30 Minutes

Physics 1: Algebra-Based   3 Hours

Physics 2: Algebra-Based   3 Hours

Precalculus   2 Hours

Psychology   2 Hours

Spanish Language and Culture   3 Hours

Spanish Literature and Culture   3 Hours

Statistics   3 Hours

United States Government and Politics   2 Hours, 25 Minutes

United States History   3 Hours, 15 Minutes

World History: Modern   3 Hours, 15 Minutes


Are these exams offered on paper, in a digital format, or both? 

Some AP exams have a digital option, and, for these exams, it’s up to the particular school to decide whether they want to offer them only on paper, offer them only in a digital format, or give the students the choice.    

The following AP exams will have a digital option in May of 2024. 

  • AP Computer Science Principles

  • AP English Language and Composition 

  • AP English Literature and Composition 

  • AP European History 

  • AP Seminar 

  • AP U.S. History 

  • AP World History: Modern

  • AP African American Studies (2023-24 pilot schools only)


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