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A Guide to AP Courses and AP Tests

Updated on September 25, 2016


If you have not heard about AP (Advanced Placement) Courses, you’re not alone. Several colleges and universities offer AP courses to younger students (high school and even middle school). The student pays a fee and enrolls in an online AP class. This class can involve emails, forums, video chat with the professor and “class” and even social media. Students are given information and instructions, including assigned reading and/or projects. Once the course is completed, the student takes an exam. This is the AP Test. Exams are scored from 1 (lowest) to 5 (which is an A). If a student scores a 4 or a 5 on his/her AP test, they receive college credit for the course!

There are many reasons why AP tests are valuable and worth completing. The obvious reason is that your child will gain legitimate college credit before they begin actual college! Another good reason to try AP courses is to introduce your child to college-level academic skills. Another excellent reason to pursue AP courses is because it will save you thousands of dollars in the long run. For example, an AP course that costs $90 to complete would be equivalent to a college course that would potentially cost $800 to complete. The difference in cost is incredible and yet the child is getting the same college credits for the same class. AP courses help young students get their required core classes out of the way, so that their actual college experience is more focused on their desired major, including electives. In other words, AP courses can save you time, money and still earn your child real-world credentials.

AP courses are offered on every subject. There are many ways to find AP courses. Ask your local universities if they offer AP classes. Look online and research various schools which offer accredited AP courses. Here are just a few examples:


APEX offers pace-learning AP courses. This is great if you already have a full schedule, because there is less pressure than with an online college course. APEX also includes forms and an actual paper showing your credits (most AP courses require you to log onto a Collegeboard website to find out your grade). The classes start every Monday – year round – so you don’t have to worry about the next registration date or waiting until the next semester. APEX includes a materials list for each class and an actual class syllabus! The cost for classes averages $350, but the benefits might be worth it. The website:


This site has an excellent reputation but costs more. Classes are structured as actual online college courses and scheduled time is important. Classes cost $400. Website is


The interesting thing about this website is that it offers countless classes, including enrichment classes. Another interesting option on this website is the instant exam. If your child is already extremely well-versed in a subject and feels they can take the exam, College Board has that option. For $90 your student can take the exam without the fuss of taking the course. If they pass with a 4 or a 5, that student gets full college accreditation. Website:


204 courses are now listed at the Virtual High School. These are all AP courses and every course costs a flat rate of $75. This is cheaper than most AP sites. Courses last 15-36 weeks depending on the subject. Some courses are pace-learning courses. The site explains that all courses are taught via “threaded communications” and that classes are always taught every Tuesday and Wednesday. Website:


You sign up for a fee of $90 a year to be part of StraighterLine, then you have access to various AP classes (English was $69. Art History was $119). You add the courses to your "cart". They guarantee credits and even show how many college credits you get per course. (Philosophy was $49 for 3 college credits). Website:

These are just a few examples of the various websites and colleges offering online AP courses. There are websites devoted to helping parents and students make sense of the AP world, including information on how colleges determine credit points and how AP tests are actually scored. is one such site. If your student feels compelled to accomplish an AP course, be sure your child has enough time to devote to an additional online course. Sometimes students perform better when they take an AP class over summer break, allowing them more time to focus on the subject at hand. Start with a course your child feels comfortable doing, such as an English 101 course. This will not only allow your student to complete a core class for a fraction of the price, but will also acclimate him/her to how an AP course functions.

While students are not required to take any AP courses, the benefits are many to those individuals who desire to get a little more out of their educations. Talk to your child and determine if AP classes are something they would be capable of completing. Do your research and find a program that best suits your learning situation. Good luck!


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