What Parents Need to Know About AP Classes

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

If you’re the parent of a high school student planning to go to college, you’ve probably heard about Advanced Placement (AP) classes and exams. But what do you need to know about these classes other than they will help your teen stand out to colleges and universities and might allow them to earn college credits? Here are the essentials for parents:

There are seven categories of AP exams. Students can take AP classes/exams in the following areas: AP Capstone (two available), Arts (five available), English (two available), History & Social Science (nine available), Math & Computer Science (five available), Sciences (seven available), and World Languages & Cultures (eight available).

AP scores are a measure of students’ achievement in college-level AP courses. While an AP score shows how well a student performed on an AP exam, it is also a measure of the student’s success in the corresponding class. In other words, a higher score on the AP Biology exam tells colleges that your teen has a good grasp of the subject matter in that class.

One major benefit: college credit. When your teen takes an AP course and scores well on the related AP exam, he or she can earn college credit. The College Board scores these exams on a 5-point scale: 5 (extremely well qualified), 4 (well qualified), 3 (qualified), 2 (possibly qualified), and 1 (no recommendation). Many colleges grant course credits for scores of 3, 4 and 5. This means savings on college tuition.

AP helps students get ahead. All college majors require students to take general education classes like math and English. If your teen earns qualifying scores on AP Exams, he or she could avoid having to take some of those introductory classes. Also, if your teen knows what he or she plans to major in at college, taking AP exams in subjects within that major could mean that he or she can skip those and move directly into upper-level classes. This frees up time in your teen’s schedule to pursue a minor, take electives or just graduate quicker.

The 38 AP exams have some elements in common. Every AP exam has its own requirements, but all AP exams are two to three hours long and usually consist of multiple-choice questions and free-response questions (essay, spoken response, or solving a problem). Most exams are given in the first two weeks of May.

AP is also about building skills. AP classes help prepare students for the next phase of their educational journey. The classes are similar to college classes in that students are expected to dig deeper into problem-solving and analysis, get hands-on with the material, dialog and debate ideas, and push themselves. 

Perhaps most important for parents to keep in mind about taking AP classes is that doing so is a great way for your teen to get ready for college. These classes are challenging and teach students skills often taught in college. And if your teen can earn college credit and/or advanced placement by taking the corresponding exams, all the better.

Learn more about AP exams at https://apstudent.collegeboard.org and be sure to check with the colleges to which your teen plans to apply about their policies on AP credits, as every school is different. If you have questions about your high school’s AP class offerings, reach out to the guidance counselor at your school. For more information about how Huntington helps students prepare for the AP exams, call 1 800 CAN LEARN.

About Huntington

Huntington is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams.  Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards.  Founded in 1977, Huntington’s mission is to give every student the best education possible.  Learn how Huntington can help. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.  

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