a year ago
Admissions Advice

Difference between AP class and AP exam

What is the difference between having an AP class with an exam on my course transcripts rather than just the exam score?

I'm wondering whether or not it would look better if I did a class than if I self-studied and then took the exam?


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3 answers

Accepted Answer
a year ago

AP coursework or IB courses make your transcript look more compelling to colleges for a criterion called "course rigor". Why? If you can do AP/IB level work, top colleges feel that you are better prepared for success at the college level than students who do not have this experience.

Both types have 2 parts, the class itself and the test following the class. For APs, the test is on a 5-point scale, and for IBs on a 7-point scale.

Many international and rural students attend schools that do not have APs or IBs so the options are to self-study for the exams and pay for them or take online versions of the classes and either take the test or not.

Personally, I don't think the AP Class and AP Test are equal. It's far more important to have the AP or IB coursework on your transcript with a good grade than just the AP/IB test score. Why? Because colleges know you put the time and effort into the day-to-day class. You showed up, did the homework, participated in class, wrote the papers, and took the tests. Self-studying for a 45 min to a 2-hour exam is not the same thing in the eyes of college admissions officers.

Ideally, for each AP/IB you take you want to get an A in the class and a 5 or a 7 on the exam. If you take a suite of APs or IBs like 6-10 of them and do equally well you will qualify for the IB Diploma and some the CollegeBoard calls the AP Scholar with Distinction award. Either of these looks good as an award/honor on your college application.

While you will not be penalized for not taking APs or IBs if your high school doesn't offer them, you will face tougher competition from applicants in your country, state, or school district that have amassed a repertoire of advanced coursework on their transcript and you maybe shut out of certain colleges because there are just too many applicants with impressive course work and test scores.

Good luck.

a year ago

Part of colleges' basis for giving AP credit is that you not only learned course content, but academic skills that will be crucial in college. It will look infinitely better for you to demonstrate your academic vitality by taking a difficult course load of AP/IB/DE classes in school rather than just demonstrating your smarts by passing an AP exam. I would also not underestimate the difficulty of self-studying for an AP. It will require an intense amount of dedication, and you will not have a teacher there to answer your questions or walk you through how to approach each exam question. If it is between taking an AP class or self studying and taking an easy class in school, then 1000% take the AP class (it will also weight your GPA)! The only reason to self study would be if your school doesn't offer a desired AP course or if you have a different curriculum like IB at school but still want to attempt AP credit.

a year ago

Hey there!

So basically, if you take the class it can boost your GPA because it's weighted on a 5.00 grading scale! Therefore, if you only take the test, you would only get the AP credit, but it wouldn't count towards your GPA.

Personally, I would 100% take the course if it's an option to you.

Hope this helps!

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