Understanding Advanced Placement (AP) Courses

If you have a high school student in your house, you are likely at least aware of advanced placement (AP) courses. AP courses allow students to take classes in high school that, should they do well enough on the AP tests in the spring, give them college credit. In Illinois, every student scoring a 3 or higher on an AP test must be given college credit by Illinois public colleges and universities.

What you may not know about AP courses is that the time to start thinking about them is earlier than junior year of high school. Even incoming freshmen should be thinking about AP classes, because the courses they take now can determine whether or not they can take AP courses in the later years of high school. Great Schools published an article covering all of the basics of AP classes, including a list of questions to ask at your high school. Among them are:

  • What AP classes are offered, and what are the prerequisite classes that your student needs to take in order to take an AP class?
  • What scores students have received on specific tests and are same teachers teaching these AP classes?
  • What is the workload for particular AP classes your child is interested in?
  • Is the AP curriculum the school is using aligned to the AP test?

Advanced placement classes are a great way for students to prepare for college and save money by earning college credits while still in high school. For families concerned about the cost of taking an AP exam, keep in mind that there is financial aid from the College Board as well as some school districts. Be sure to read the full article at Great Schools to learn more.

Photo © 2008 by Amanda Munoz under Creative Commons license.