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What is an AP Class?

written by: Pauline H. Gill•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 10/27/2008

You may have heard the term AP, or you may know of someone who is taking an AP class or entered college as a sophomore because of AP classes. AP classes are Advanced Placement classes created by the College Board for high school students who hope to earn college credit while in high school.

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    Where To Take Classes

    AP classes are usually taught by high school teachers or provided through an internet program monitored by staff. They are available to juniors and seniors, but some schools allow freshmen and sophomores to take classes. The curriculum is suggested by the College Board and designed by the high school teacher if the class is taught at the school. If the class is a state sponsored online course, the teacher usually monitors the program. Some states set up online AP classes to allow more student access. There are also individual companies that provide courses for independent study.

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    There are 37 different courses that cover 22 areas of study. For example, students may take Advanced Placement Language and Composition or Advanced Placement Literature and Composition for English credit. These courses are college level classes, but take the place of high school classes. A senior in high school who takes AP Literature and Composition earns high school English credit and possible college credit if he or she passes the AP exam scheduled in May.

    The courses focus on advanced writing skills, and problem-solving techniques typical of college-level work. The classes are designed for the mature-thinking student who is willing to put in extra hours of study.

    High schools have their own process for enrollment. Some schools have open enrollment while other schools have entrance exams. Some teachers have expectations that must be met at all times or the student is dropped from the class. It should be understood, that the opportunity to take an AP class is a privilege.

    When students have finished the required curriculum work, they will take a three to four hour exam in May. The College Board sets the time for the exam, which must be adhered to or tests are invalid. It is a rigorous test, but for each test that a student passes, they may receive three to nine credits toward their college course of study depending upon the college. If a student takes a full load of AP classes for the school year and passes the exams, the student may enter school as a sophomore. This is certainly a tremendous savings for parents and students.

AP Classes for High School Students

Imagine starting college as a sophomore because the AP classes you took in high school gave you the credits to move ahead in college. AP classes prepare you for college work and offer an opportunity for college credit if you pass the AP exam.
  1. What is an AP Class?
  2. What to Expect in an AP Class
  3. Preparing for the AP Exam