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  • Amaaya Raheja Garg

Advanced Placement Tests (APs) - Selection & Timing

Conducted by the College Board, Advanced Placement Tests (APs) are external subject-specific tests you can take that are scored from 1 (No recommendation) to 5 (Highly qualified). The AP exam is conducted in pen and paper format. The question paper is divided into 2 parts—the first part consisting of multiple choice questions and the second part consisting of free response questions which require you to write answers as essays or general solutions. Depending on the AP subject in which you are taking the exam, the total duration of the exam ranges between 2-3 hours.

Students take the AP examinations for many reasons including the following:

  1. Boost your academic rigour - show colleges you’ve challenged yourself by taking college level courses in addition to your school curriculum

  2. Diversify academic profile - if you’re a science student taking APs in a social science/humanities subjects shows you have a wide range of skills

  3. Establish academic parity - National/State board students can show they are at the same level as international board students by scoring well in the AP exams

  4.  To earn college credits and accelerate your degree - Earn credits for required courses which allows you to take more electives while at college

  5. Satisfy Cambridge/LSE academic requirements for Indian Boards - Students with Indian board qualifications (CBSE, ISC) are expected to score a 5 in five or more AP Tests as an additional requirement (unless taking JEE or STEP examination)

  6. Save on money and time - You can skip classes in college and automatically earn placement in advanced college courses by fulfilling their requirement in AP exams. This will allow you to finish your degree early saving on money and time

  7. Build skills to succeed at university - APs teach you research and critical thinking skills

The AP examinations take place in May to June of every year. Registrations for them start November onwards. 

In India, the following APs are offered: 

STEM: AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science A, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, AP Physics C - Electricity & Magnetism, AP Physics C - Mechanics, AP Statistics, AP Environment Science 

Social Sciences & Humanities: AP Comparative Government and Politics, AP United States History, AP World History - Modern, AP English Literature and Composition,  AP English Language and Composition, AP Human Geography, AP Microeconomics, AP Macroeconomics, AP Psychology 

 This graph encapsulates the

How to plan which APs to take and when to take them:

  • If you are a Grade 9 or 10 student, start with the easier APs (green circles above) that match your profile and intended major/program in college: Computer Science Principles, Psychology, Environmental Science, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics or Human Geography. 

  • In the summer between Grades 11 and 12, you can take the harder STEM-related APs. 

  • If you are an IB student, pick AP examinations in subjects different from your HLs since you will receive college credit for them in any case and repeating the same subjects across two boards offers no advantages

  • You cannot take AP Calculus AB and BC in the same year so plan to take them across two years if you need to take both. You do recieve a Calculus AB subscore when you take the BC exam so if you feel prepared for the harder test, you can directly jump to Calc BC and skip AB. 

To understand which APs are ideal for you, speak to your mentors at OnCourse who will be able to make the most effective recommendations keeping in mind your interests, your current academic standing and your resume. If you are not enrolled with OnCourse, reach out to set up a consultation meeting to understand more about our mentoring programs for students from Grade 8 to Grade 12. 

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