5 months ago
Admissions Advice

Can you still get credit for an AP class if you take the exam and score high on it, but never take the actual class?

There are a few AP classes I want to take, but my school doesn't offer them. I found out that you can sign up by yourself to take the AP exam at a school that does administer the test, and you can self-study for it. If I do this, will I still get the right amount of credit for the course (assuming I get higher than a 3 on the exam AND the college I go to accepts AP credit), or does actually taking the class play a factor in the credit you receive?

Basically, if I take only the exam but not the class, do I still get credit for the course?

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3 answers

Accepted Answer
5 months ago

Yes, you would get college credit for taking the exam only. The benefit of taking the class if you were able to would be to show colleges you can handle a college-level workload, while the exam itself shows you can handle college-level concepts and materials.

5 months ago[edited]

The simple answer is yes.

The more nuanced answer is that you have to check with each college you are applying to see if they will honor APs. Some schools like MIT for example, will not give you any AP credit for any STEM courses like AP Calc, AP Bio, AP Chem, or AP Physics because MIT has very specific core STEM classes that most 1st and 2nd years take. It doesn't matter if you get a 5 in these, the don't count at MIT.

If you are planning to apply to IVYs and Elite colleges, the rule of thumb is that you may get college credit for certain AP courses but not all APs if and only if you receive a "5" on your AP exam. If you are applying to Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, or UChicago, don't expect to get college credit for anything but a score of "5". Some classes like AP Environmental or AP Stats or AP Art may not even count because they don't acknowledge them. I've also heard that at Brown or Williams, APs do not count at all. But if you get high AP test scores, the colleges use them to place you in a higher-form class.

As you go down to T30-T50 schools, the standards ease up a bit, so you may get college credit for 4. And then further down, most state colleges will give you college credit for a 3.

So the key thing you have to do is do some research ahead of time to determine your potential college list the kinds of AP courses they accept and the level of the test score you need to get college credit.

All the other answers are correct technically, but it's up to the individual college to determine which APs count and what the min. AP test score is.

I hope this will help you decide which APs to study for because you don't want to self-study for a bunch of APs that your reach/target schools do not accept.

Good luck.

5 months ago

Hi! In short, you will get the AP exam credit for college if you pass the exam. However, you will not get the high school class credit for your HS transcript since you didn't actually take the class at your school. But, if you're interested in getting credit for your HS transcript, you should check out dual - enrollment with your local community colleges if offered or see if your high school offers a way to take the class online. I hope this helps! :)

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