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4 Key Benefits of taking AP Exams for Singapore Students

JUL 29, 2021

The Advanced Placement (AP) Programme: An Overview


What are AP Courses?

In short, AP courses are a way of showing what's called college readiness - essentially, that you’re prepared to thrive at university. There's a range of subjects you can take, from basic calculus, to psychology, statistics, US history and others. AP courses can play a big role in boosting your odds of getting into competitive universities - of late, they have become a very popular tool academic qualification for ambitious students all over the world.

Advanced Placement (AP) courses are essentially equivalent to first year university coursework. They can be taken while you’re still in junior college / high school classes.

Advanced Placement courses are primarily taken in the US but in recent years have gained popularity internationally, including in Singapore, China, the UK and elsewhere.

The AP Programme is a curriculum created by the College Board (the same organisation that administers the SAT exam) and helps build a pathway to US universities. In fact, AP courses are widely accepted for college credit by top universities worldwide, including those in the US, UK and Singapore (NUS, NTU and SMU all accept AP coursework)!

According to the United States Education Information Center, the Advanced Placement Program, established in 1955, is the most widely used academic program in the world. Each year, over 2.8 million students take AP exams, with most students taking multiple APs during the course of their high school careers.

What are AP Exams?

AP Exams are tests taken at the end of your AP coursework to measure the knowledge you’ve gained and your ability to apply it. They are scored out of a total of 5 points, with 5 being the highest possible score.

Who should take AP Exams?

These schools in Singapore currently offer APs to their students: SAS, NUS High School, Stamford American School.

Students from Grade 9/Sec 3 onwards are encouraged to take AP Exams, and can present their results as part of their academic profile when applying to competitive universities abroad. Having AP courses on your high school transcript illustrates your ability to handle rigorous coursework and your desire to learn!

It typically takes one year to study for AP coursework; students outside the schools named above can take the exams as private candidates and sometimes self-study. However, AP exams are known to be much more challenging than exams in a typical high school class, so earning high scores requires diligence and resourcefulness.

For many students whose high schools do not offer AP classes, the best option is to enrol in them independently. For students interested in this approach, Crimson Global Academy offers AP classes that can be taken on weekday evenings or weekends, to complement their regular schooling.

When and where are AP Exams held in Singapore?

Each year, AP Exams are typically held over the course of two weeks in early- to mid-May in Singapore. Students study up to a year before their exam, to prepare for it.

It is very common practice for students to take AP exams as private candidates (meaning that you do not need to register for the exam with your school, if it does not offer APs). You can take the exams at the USEIC.

4 Key Benefits of taking the AP Exam for Singaporean Students

1. AP exams are being accepted and encouraged as a valid replacement to SAT Subject Tests.

With all of the recent changes to the US university admissions process — most notably the shift to test-optional policies — students from around the world are looking for ways to boost their profile and stand out to admissions officers in the absence of standardized test scores. One of the most popular options is the Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum.

In fact, College Board (the administering body for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests) CEO David Coleman even said in a statement:*
“AP provides a much richer and more flexible way for students to distinguish themselves. We’ve continued to enrich and expand access to AP courses, which let students showcase their skills through challenging coursework."

Previously, universities like Harvard and MIT required students to submit at least 2 SAT Subject Tests to demonstrate their competency in various subjects, especially for those applying for STEM Subjects. Now, AP Exams allow students to distinguish themselves in a similar manner, by demonstrating that they have the academic capability to excel in their chosen subjects.

2. AP Exams can boost your academic profile and improve your chances of getting into competitive US and UK Universities

It is notoriously hard to stand out academically as a Singapore student. However, AP exams show universities that you are willing to go the extra mile.

Admissions officers want to see students step outside their traditional school environment and seek out opportunities to expand their understanding of and involvement in whatever interests them! Whether it’s computer science, world history, political science, or studio art, admissions officers want to know that you are taking every opportunity you can to become an expert — and AP exams offer you this opportunity.

Further, AP Exams are essentially equivalent to first-year university level coursework. Doing well on your AP Exams shows admissions officers that you have what it takes to do well at university.

3. Explore subjects that are not offered in the A-Level/IB curriculum

There are 38 different AP exams offered globally, ranging in a variety of areas like Psychology, Art, Humanities, Science, Math, History, and Languages.

You can take a wealth of subjects for your AP exams, including those not commonly offered in standard schools in Singapore, like Statistics, Micro and Macroeconomics, Environmental Science, World History, Government & Politics, specialized Physics courses, and various Languages. Check out this list for to see all AP courses on offer.

4. Earn university credits

Due to their academic rigor, students at US universities can receive college credit for AP courses, depending on their exam scores. This means your goal university may offer college credits for the completion of AP courses, which can set you up early for particular credit-related benefits like graduating early, or exempting you from subject prerequisite courses.


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Have more questions about taking Advanced Placement courses in Singapore? Email us or contact us at +65 6909 2004 to have your questions answered by one of our Academic Advisors!