What are AP Courses?

AP is an abbreviation for Advanced Placement, which is national program sponsored by the College Board. AP courses challenge students with rigorous course work that is at the college level while they are still in high school. The College Board monitors these courses carefully to ensure that all classes designated as AP are in accordance with national standards. Instructors teaching these courses must have an extensive course syllabus approved by the College Board. The result is a curriculum that engages students and encourages problem solving and analytical thinking skills. Students taking these courses create a motivated environment that is characterized by in-depth discussions and intellectual investigation.

In May, the College Board offers examinations in each of their AP subjects. These exams assess knowledge in that specific content area and are scored on a scale of 1-5. Students who earn a score of 3 or above are eligible to receive college credit for that course; some universities offer credit only for scores of 4 or 5. Each AP exam costs $75, and need-based scholarships are available.

Nearly one million students took over 3 million AP tests last year, and approximately 68% of high schools offer at least one AP course. The program also offers an International Diploma.

Individual students may also receive recognition through AP Scholars awards.

For more reasons why to take an AP course, see the College Board's Why AP? site.

Why take AP Courses?

First and foremost, AP courses develop skills and content knowledge that prepare students for success at the college level. Numerous studies have indicated that students’ involvement in AP courses during high school leave them more prepared to succeed at college courses in comparison to those peers who have not experienced AP classes. For specific statistics in this area, please refer to the official College Board AP Site.

Additionally, students receiving a passing score on AP examinations can earn college credit at the majority of colleges or universities across the nation. Students who pass a number of AP courses can enter a university with sophomore standing and complete their degree in less than four years, saving thousands of dollars in tuition. Credit policies can vary, so contact specific universities for their policies on accepting AP scores. A link to this information is available on the AP website.

The College Board also recognizes students who have excelled by passing a number of AP exams with such distinctions as the AP Scholar Award, AP Scholar with Honor, AP Scholar with Distinction, AP State Scholar, and AP National Scholar. International Universities can also use AP scores for admission and placement.

Who should take AP Courses?

An important philosphy behind the AP concept, is that all students who wish to challenge themselves with an AP course should have the opportunity to try. In this way, enrollment in these classes is intended to be inclusive.

Those students who do take AP courses are willing to put in the time in takes to meet rigorous academic expectations. In doing so, they realize that all of their hard work and efforts are worth it to help them succeed in their post high school education plans.

Students may find that they want to take only one AP course in a subject of particular interest to them, or they may find that they want to take every available AP class offered at Sprague.

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