Advanced Placement (AP) courses are courses that follow a prescribed curriculum and course guidelines provided by the College Board. The courses are designed to be equivalent to rigorous college level courses in those subjects.
Students taking an AP course must commit to also taking an AP examination in that course in May. Enrollment in the course requires that the student register and pay for the AP exam ahead of time. The exam is prepared by the College Board and mailed away to be scored by outside correctors.
Students taking AP courses have their other class work graded by their teachers at the school and receive grades throughout the year that are weighted when entered into the student’s overall academic record. Nevertheless, it is the score received on the AP exam in May that colleges assess in awarding possible credit or advanced standing at their institutions.
The exam grades are either 1,2,3,4, or 5. An A grade earns a score of 5 and is the highest grade awarded on the exam. Different institutions award varying amounts of college credit depending on the score and the policies of the college. There is a considerable range of credit that different colleges may award. Some very selective colleges state that they do not award any credit for AP exams.
AP examinations are recognized throughout the United States, and the College Board website states that there are over 110,000 AP course given in secondary schools worldwide.