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Advanced Placement (AP) Exams

What are the AP Exams? 

Founded by the College Board, a not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity, in the USA and Canada, Advanced Placement is a program that offers college-level curriculum and examinations to high school students. Universities in the United States offer university entrance and course credits to students who score high on the AP exams.

AP Exams are standardized exams designed to measure how well the students mastered the content and skills of a specific AP course. Most AP courses have an end-of-year paper-and-pencil exam, but a few courses have different ways to assess what students have learned—for example, AP Art and Design students submit a portfolio of work for scoring.

When are the AP Exams? 

AP exams start on the first day of May and last for 2 weeks.

Exams have local start times and can begin up to 1 hour after the official start time. 

What are the common things in AP Exams? 

Each of the 38 exams has its own unique requirements; however, almost all of the exams have the following things in common: 

  • Most exams are 2–3 hours long.
  • The first part of the exam usually consists of multiple-choice questions.
  • Students will choose 1 of 4–5 answer choices for each question and use a pencil to bubble in their choice on their AP answer sheet for paper and pencil exams.
    • Students will enter their answers in the exam application for AP Chinese and AP Japanese Language and Culture Exams.
  • Students total exam score on the multiple-choice section is based only on the number of questions answered correctly. Students won’t receive or lose points for incorrect answers or unanswered questions.
  • The second part of the exam usually consists of free-response questions that require students to generate their own responses. Depending on the exam, students responses could be in the form of an essay, a solution to a problem, or a spoken response.
  • For paper and pencil exams: In most cases, students will be writing their response in pen in the free-response exam booklet.

  • For AP Chinese and AP Japanese Language and Culture Exams: students will type their responses in the exam application.

As usual, AP Chinese and AP Japanese Exams are administered in schools on computers.
AP Research, AP Computer Science Principles, and the three AP Art and Design course exams with digital portfolios also take place in May. 

How many times can I take the AP Exams? 

Students can take as many AP exams as they want each year. The average student takes 3 exams during high school, although some students take more. It is ideal for students to be successful in 5 AP exams before applying to a university.

How are the results of AP exams calculated? 

AP exams are scored out of 1-5.

  • The multiple-choice section is scored by computer. Each answer sheet is scanned and the total number of correct responses equals the multiple-choice score.
  • The free-response section (essays and open-ended questions) and through-course performance tasks are scored at the annual AP Reading held during the first two weeks in June. Specially appointed college professors and experienced AP teachers score this section of the exam.
  • The total scores from the free-response section and the multiple-choice section are combined to form a composite score. These composite scores are then translated into the 5-point scale using statistical processes designed to ensure that, for example, a 3 this year reflects the same level of achievement as a 3 last year.

The above is true for most AP courses. However, the assessments for AP Seminar, AP Research, AP Computer Science Principles, and the three AP Art and Design courses are different. 

Why should I take AP Exams? 

Some universities allow students to be exempt from introductory courses with their AP exam results, while others allow students to enter higher courses. Each university has different requirements, but many universities require students to get a 3 or 4 in AP exams in order to receive course credits.

What are the AP courses?  

There are 38 courses in the AP Program, these are:


  • AP Art History
  • AP Biology
  • AP Calculus AB
  • AP Calculus BC
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Chinese Language and Culture
  • AP Computer Science A
  • AP Computer Science Principles
  • AP English Language and Composition
  • AP English Literature and Composition
  • AP Environmental Science
  • AP European History
  • AP French Language and Culture
  • AP German Language and Culture
  • AP Government and Politics: Comparative
  • AP Government and Politics: United States
  • AP Human Geography
  • AP Italian Language and Culture
  • AP Japanese Language and Culture
  • AP Latin
  • AP Macroeconomics
  • AP Microeconomics
  • AP Music Theory
  • AP Physics 1
  • AP Physics 2
  • AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
  • AP Physics C: Mechanics
  • AP Psychology
  • AP Research (Second part of the AP Capstone program)
  • AP Seminar (First part of the AP Capstone program)
  • AP Statistics
  • AP Spanish Language and Culture
  • AP Spanish Literature and Culture
  • AP Studio Art: 2-D Design (Soon to be AP 2-D Art and Design)
  • AP Studio Art: 3-D Design (Soon to be AP 3-D Art and Design)
  • AP Studio Art: Drawing (Soon to be AP Drawing)
  • AP United States History
  • AP World History (Soon to be divided into two courses: AP World History: Modern, AP World History: Ancient)


The study schedule will be intense for the students who plan to take more than one AP exam at the end of their junior year. It's a sensible strategy to start your AP exam preparation well in advance. At Collab, we direct our students to Puza Academy, where students receive academic and exam preparation support for their AP courses. 

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