When applying to universities in the US, Advanced Placement courses and strong AP test scores can provide a significant advantage — especially if your sights are set on the Ivy League or similarly competitive schools. Read on to learn about the benefits of AP classes, how many to take, and how international students can access AP curricula from anywhere in the world!
Advanced Placement (AP) courses are entry-level college courses offered as high school classes that are standardized and administered by the CollegeBoard. There are 38 different AP exams offered globally, ranging in areas like Psychology, Art, Humanities, Science, Math, History, and Languages. AP courses are designed to prepare students for college-level work by offering a more accelerated approach to the traditional courses offered in high school.
AP classes differ from traditional classes in the sense that they are designed to prepare students for a standardized test each spring that’s developed by the CollegeBoard with the goal of demonstrating a student’s comprehension of college-level subjects. The standardization ensures that every student who passes the AP exam is actually able to keep up with college-level coursework!
The recommended number of AP courses/exams to take varies based on the kind of universities you’re hoping to apply to. A 2013 study conducted by admissions officials at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill found that students should “pursue at least five college-level courses" during high school; however, it’s important to keep in mind that since the study was conducted, acceptance rates have decreased significantly and the competition is fiercer than ever.
Here are some tips to help you choose the course that is right for you:
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For students aiming for the Ivy League and Top 20 schools in the United States, a good target is to take (and pass) 10-14 AP classes throughout your high school career — or 3-4 each year. Keep in mind that this course load is not realistic for every student, and if you feel that you’re not capable of taking 10-14 APs while also taking care of your mental health and balancing things like extracurriculars, consider pursuing 7-8. It is more important for you to do well in fewer AP classes than to earn mediocre grades in many.
If students do well in the course but not on the exam, not to worry! The transcript admissions officers see will still benefit from a rigorous course load. However, a strong score, or recommendation, is quite advantageous — especially for applicants to the most competitive universities — so if your test scores are strong, you will want to submit them!
“Despite widespread test-optional policies, we noticed [last year] that the vast majority of STEM applicants (70%+) still submitted test scores in just the EA/ED round. Standardized tests are still considered a valuable data point for Admissions Officers and a strong score still helps students stand out. This is especially true for regions where the vast majority of students are submitting scores — you don’t want to be the one student without one! On the flip side, if your peers are all unable to test due to cancellations, then you are also fine in not submitting a score, but this also provides an opportunity for you to stand out even further with a strong score (if you are able to safely take the test, of course),” says Senior Crimson Strategist, Brice.
The APs are completely externally assessed through one standardized examination at the end of the academic year. AP exams are scored on a scale of 1-5.
AP (Advanced Placement) courses offer a range of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the main ones:
Advantages of AP courses:
Disadvantages of AP courses:
Ultimately, the decision to take AP courses should consider individual circumstances, academic goals, and personal preferences. It's important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages to determine whether AP courses align with a student's educational aspirations.
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Now you might be wondering how you can take AP classes. Maybe you are studying at a school that does not offer AP classes, or you don’t have access to the subjects you are interested in. Crimson Global Academy is here to help you. We are an international online high school that offers AP classes from the comfort of your home.
At CGA, students study to their ability, not age, so you can take the classes you want regardless of what you are studying in school. Besides AP classes, we offer International GCSE, A Level and US Diploma courses for students aged 8-18. There are also a variety of extracurricular activities, internships and leadership opportunities at CGA.
What is Crimson Global Academy?