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AP Classes That Count as College Credit

Find AP classes that will help you get ahead.

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Listen up, all you eager, college-bound high schoolers: While sending in applications and signing up for the ACT is a good start, taking AP classes is one of the best things you can do as a high school student in order to prepare yourself for college coursework. Read on to learn more about AP classes, including the many benefits they offer, such as earning college credits.

What’s an AP Class?

Advanced Placement or “AP” classes are college-level courses offered to high school students. These classes are offered in a wide range of subjects, such as Biology, English Literature and U.S. History. Each AP class concludes with an AP exam that measures your mastery of the material you studied during the semester.

If you feel like you’re really knowledgeable in a certain area, you can sit for the AP exam.

Wondering whether it’s worth it to take these tough classes? Here are a few good reasons to consider adding AP classes to your course load:

  • AP classes help prepare you for the kind of work you’ll be expected to do in college courses.
  • You learn a lot in AP classes – teachers will expect you to engage in discussions and projects instead of just memorizing facts and figures.
  • Taking an AP class looks good on your transcripts, especially since AP grades are often given more weight when measuring your GPA.
  • Many colleges and universities accept AP classes as college credit (see below for more info).
  • If you get college credit, you can save on tuition by waiving pre-requisite courses.

How Can I Get College Credit for AP Classes?

One of the biggest perks of AP classes is that you can get college credit as long as you score well on the AP Exam at the end of the semester. AP exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Many colleges accept a score of 4 or 5 on an AP exam as college credit in that subject area. In some cases, even a 3 is accepted for college credit.

While most colleges accept AP credits, there’s definitely a difference in how strict the requirements are. About 58% of public colleges give credit for a score of 3; meanwhile, only 33% of private colleges accept this score. The more selective an institution is, the more likely they are to require higher AP scores in order to receive college credit. For example, the highly selective Northwestern University only accepts a 3 in one course (AP chemistry) – a 4 or a 5 is required in other AP courses. Meanwhile, University of Wisconsin, Madison accepts a score of 3 on all AP exams.

Wondering if your dream school accepts AP classes for credit? Check out the CollegeBoard database on AP credit policy info. You can search through hundreds of schools’ AP credit policies with the click of a mouse.

AP Classes for College Credit: Quick Facts


  • There are 34 AP courses covering everything from Chinese Language and Culture to Psychology. Talk to your guidance counselor to find out which AP classes your high school offers.
  • You don’t have to take the AP class to take an AP exam. If you feel like you’re really knowledgeable in a certain area, you can sit for the AP exam. If your scores meet your college’s standards, you can receive college credit even though you didn’t take the test.
  • There are lots of options for students who get college credit for AP exam scores besides saving on tuition – you can graduate from college early, take more upper-level courses, pursue a double major or even study abroad.

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