Will My AP Classes Count As College Credit?

High school advanced placement, or AP, classes are harder than regular classes, and if you went through these accelerated courses as a high school student, you probably want to know if your AP classes count as college credit. The answer is that it depends on the college and how well you scored on the final exam. Most colleges give credit for a score of 3 or 4 on the final exam of an AP course, but not all colleges do, and most colleges don’t give credit for scores below 3 on an AP final exam.

What the AP Exam Is — and What It Isn’t

Many people who work in college admissions say that AP courses don’t actually give students the skills they should get from a college-level course, and many students coming to universities directly from high school lack some of the fundamental skills that college students should have. The original purpose of the AP exam, when it was introduced in 1956, was to place students in the correct college courses, but it was never designed to be a substitute for freshman year classes. These days, AP classes have become an introduction to college learning for many high school students, and most universities accept passing grades in AP courses as college credit.

A passing grade on an AP exam is a 3 or 4, and while lower grades can still give students credit for taking a high school class, they aren’t sufficient to receive college credit. Some of the top schools deny credit for AP courses because they have the clout to be as selective as they want. For example, Dartmouth University doesn’t give out credit for AP courses because, it says, Dartmouth classes should be taken at Dartmouth. However, most public colleges and general-admission schools do award credit for AP classes because it helps them attract the best students to their schools.

The Benefits of Taking AP Courses

Even though not all schools give credit for AP grades, it’s still a good idea to take them for the experience as well as the possible credit on your transcript. Dartmouth may not let students skip the freshman year of school, but it does notice when students have AP credit and takes it into consideration when reviewing applications.

The most important outcome of an AP class is the experience of taking college-level courses, and the final exam is a lot more rigorous than the final exams for regular high school classes. It’s a standardized test with written and multiple-choice sections, and the possible grades range from 0 to 4, with a 4 being excellent and a 0 usually failing. Many educators say that AP courses don’t actually prepare students for college, and testing shows that AP students perform about the same as non-AP students in freshman college courses. The observation that can be made from this fact is that a student’s academic success is up to the student, and simply taking AP classes in high school doesn’t guarantee college-level skills.

College is an important process that changes someone from an average person into an educated professional, and AP classes are a great way for high school students to get into the stricter study habits required in college. If you’re enrolling in college, talk to the admissions department to find out if AP classes count as college credit.

For additional information, please see: Do Colleges Give Academic Credit for AP/IB High School Courses?