What Is the AP Program?

The Advanced Placement Program (AP) is a cooperative educational endeavor between schools and colleges and universities. It gives high school students exposure to college-level material through involvement in an AP course, and then gives them an opportunity to show what they have learned by taking an AP Exam. Colleges and universities are then able to grant credit, placement, or both to these students.

AP Exams are a significant part of the AP Program, but they are not the only part. AP courses, taught by dedicated and committed high school teachers, lay the groundwork for students to succeed on the exams. The AP Course Description booklets for each discipline outline the course content, describe the curricular goals of the subject, and give sample examination questions. They are available to AP teachers the year before the course will be taught and reflect what AP students will see on their AP Exam in May. How this content is presented is up to the teachers, who bring their individual flair and creative ideas to the AP classroom.

There are many benefits for students who take AP courses. They can study subjects they are interested in and challenge themselves with students who are similarly motivated. AP often helps steer students who are unsure about their future plans toward college or advanced studies, and most colleges view any AP experience as a plus. This gives students a head start and increases their future options. AP prepares students for the future by giving them tools that will serve them well throughout their college career.

The Advanced Placement Program is administered by the College Board, which contracts with Educational Testing Service (ETS) for technical and operational educational services.

The AP Program plays a creative role as well as a facilitative one. As an intermediary among participating institutions, the Program does the following:

Chooses college faculty and AP secondary school teachers who develop college- level course descriptions and examinations, and facilitates this development process.

Provides conferences, consultants, and curricular materials to help interested schools establish college-level courses.

Furnishes and grades examinations based on the learning goals described in the AP Course Descriptions.

Sends grade reports to the students, their schools, and their designated colleges.

Prepares publications, online materials, and other resources to supplement and support the Program's activities.

Conducts research and strives to develop new services and products that enhance quality education.

Since the Program's inception in 1955, more than 7.3 million students have taken nearly 10.7 million AP Examinations worldwide. On average, 64 percent of those who take an AP Exam receive a grade that is accepted for college credit, advanced placement, or both. More than 57 percent of U.S. secondary schools currently participate in the Program.

For further information on the growth of the AP Program, see the Statistical Tables in our online Technical Manual (www.collegeboard.com).

AP Courses and Examinations

In 1999, approximately 635,000 students worldwide took AP courses and examinations.

Students take AP courses and exams for many reasons an independent, nonprofit organization the challenge, the sense of accomplishment, the strengthening of their college applications, the money and time saved, and the opportunities that can unfold as a result of their AP experience. A student who earns a grade of 3 or better on an AP Exam is generally considered qualified to receive credit for the equivalent course at one of the almost 3,000 colleges and universities that give credit for AP Exams. The associated cost savings can be as much as $2,500 per course. Once in college, AP students often take advanced courses, explore different subject areas, enter honors and other special programs, and even complete undergraduate requirements early.

College and university policies regarding AP grades vary. Students seeking college credit through AP are advised to obtain the college's AP policy in writing, or to look for it in the institutions catalog or on their website. Questions to ask include: What placement, exemption, and credit are granted for satisfactory performance on an Exam? What minimum AP Exam grade qualifies for this treatment? Is there any other requirement to receive credit and / or placement?

AP Examinations are developed anew each year by committees of five to eight college and AP high school faculty appointed by the College Board and aided by consultants from ETS. The exams are based on the courses outlined in the College Board's AP Course Descriptions. Course and exam information is also available on the AP website. Each subject has an overview of exam content and sample questions. Athens High School offers AP courses in Biology, American Government, European History, American History , Calculus and English Literature. There are 32 AP courses in 18 subject areas: Art, Biology, Calculus AD and BC, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, English, Environmental Science, European History, French, German Language, Government & Politics, Human Geography, International English Language, Latin, Music Theory, Physics, Psychology, Spanish, Statistics, U.S. History and World History.