Monday, May 16College Admissions News

How Many College Credits Is an AP Class?

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Are you taking AP classes in high school and want to know if you’ll be able to get college credit for them? It’s not always possible to get college credit from AP classes, but many high school students do. How can you be one of them? Read this guide to find out! We’ll walk you through the process and answer all the key questions such as, “How many college credits is an AP class worth?” “Are AP classes college credit?” and “How many college credits is AP world history?”

Let’s get started!

Do AP Classes Count as College Credit?

If you take one or more AP classes in high school and do well on the exam, can you get college credit? Yes! The possibility of earning college credit is a major benefit of taking AP classes.

Advanced Placement is a program run by the College Board (the makers of the SAT) that allows high school students to take courses that can earn them college credit and/or qualify them for more advanced classes when they begin college. There are currently 38 AP courses and several million high school students enroll in AP classes each year.

However, it’s not taking an AP class that earns you college credit, it’s how well you score on the AP exam. AP exams are given in early May each year, and they’re scored on a scale of 1-5. Your scores on these exams give you the potential to earn college credit from AP classes.

 

How Many College Credits Is an AP Class Worth?

So if you go through all the work of taking an AP class, studying for the AP exam, and doing well on it, how many college credits can you expect to earn? It depends on several factors, mainly:

  • Which AP exam you take
  • Your AP exam score
  • The college’s AP credit policy

Let’s go through these factors one by one. First, some AP exams tend to give more college credit than others, often the foreign language and math/science APs. Scoring well on a foreign language AP exam typically requires multiple years of study, equivalent to several college classes, so it makes sense you get more college credits for it. Math and science AP classes also often have prerequisites (such as taking pre-calculus in order to take AP Calc AB or BC), and colleges often award credit for both the AP course you took and its prerequisite. For science APs such as Biology and Chemistry, you typically get credit for both a lecture course and a lab course.

 Next factor is your AP exam score. Typically, you need a minimum score of 3 to get college credit. However, some colleges only award credit if you earn a 4 or 5. Additionally, some schools give college credit if you earn a 3, but give more college credit if you get a higher score (this is especially true of foreign language APs).

The final, and often most important factor, is how generous the college you’re interested in is with awarding AP credit. Some colleges, especially public ones, award AP credit for every AP exam, often for scores of 3 and higher. Other schools are much more restrictive, and some schools, as you’ll see below, don’t give any college credit for AP classes at all.

 

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AP Policies for 3 Colleges

What are some AP policies for actual colleges? Below are the AP credit policies for three schools: Ohio State University, Bowdoin College, and Brown University. Look through the charts to see how different exams and scores earn students different credits. Note that these charts only give an overview of credit earned; click on the links above to see the exact courses you earn credits for each AP exam.

For each school we’ll look at how many credits a student, “Ava” would earn if she took AP US History, AP Biology, and AP English Language and earned a 4 on each exam.

 

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

AP Exam

Score

Credits Earned

Art and Design: 2-D Design

3+

3

Art and Design: 3-D Design

3+

3

Art and Design: Drawing

3+

3

Art History

3+

3

Biology

3 or 4

5

4

8

Calculus AB

3+

5

Calculus BC

3+

10

Chemistry

3+

5

Chinese Language and Culture

3

4

5

8

12

17

Computer Science A

3

4 or 5

3

6

Computer Science Principles

3+

3

English Language and Composition

3+

3

English Literature and Composition

3+

3

Environmental Science

3+

3

European History

3+

3

French Language and Culture

3

4

5

8

12

15

German Language and Culture

3

4

5

8

12

15

Government and Politics: Comparative

3+

3

Government and Politics: US

3+

3

Human Geography

3+

3

Italian Language and Culture

3

4

5

8

12

15

Japanese Language and Culture

3

4

5

8

12

17

Latin

3

4

5

10

13

16

Macroeconomics

3+

3

Microeconomics

3+

3

Music Theory

3

4 or 5

2

4

Physics 1: Algebra-Based

3+

5

Physics 2: Algebra-Based

3+

5

Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

3+

5

Physics C: Mechanics

3+

5

Psychology

3+

3

Research

3+

3

Seminar

3+

3

Spanish Language and Culture

3

4 or 5

8

15

Spanish Literature and Culture

3

4 or 5

8

15

Statistics

3

3

US History

3+

6

World History: Modern

3+

6

Like many other large, public schools, Ohio State University has a generous AP credit policy. It gives college credit for every AP exam, and you generally only need to score a 3 to get college credit (although higher scores often earn you more credit). Math, science, and foreign language exams tend to give the most credit.

If Ava attended OSU, she’d earn 4 credits for her AP Bio score, 6 credits for her AP US History score, and 3 credits for her AP English Language score, for a total of 13 credits. At OSU, students need 180 credits to graduate, which comes out to about 23 credits per semester. So Ava’s AP scores would earn her over half a semester’s worth of college credit. Not too shabby!

 

BOWDOIN COLLEGE

AP Exam

Score

Credits Earned

Art and Design: 2-D Design

4+

Art and Design: 3-D Design

4+

1

Art and Design: Drawing

4+

1

Art History

n/a

Placement only

Biology

n/a

Placement only

Calculus AB

n/a

Placement only

Calculus BC

n/a

Placement only

Chemistry

4+

1

Chinese Language and Culture

n/a

Placement only

Computer Science A

n/a

Placement only

Computer Science Principles

n/a

Placement only

English Language and Composition

English Literature and Composition

4+

1

Environmental Science

5

1

European History

4+

1

French Language and Culture

4+

1

German Language and Culture

Government and Politics: Comparative

4+

1

Government and Politics: US

4+

1

Human Geography

Italian Language and Culture

4+

1

Japanese Language and Culture

n/a

Placement only

Latin

4+

1

Macroeconomics

4+

1

Microeconomics

4+

1

Music Theory

4+

1

Physics 1: Algebra-Based

Physics 2: Algebra-Based

Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

Physics C: Mechanics

4+

1

Psychology

4+

Placement only

Research

Seminar

Spanish Language and Culture

4+

1

Spanish Literature and Culture

4+

1

Statistics

n/a

Placement only

US History

4+

1

World History: Modern

4+

1

 

Bowdoin College is a private liberal arts college, and its AP credit policy is similar to those of many other private schools: it offers a decent amount of AP credit (but not as much as most public colleges), and it often requires higher exam scores (4 and up for most exams) for students to earn credit. For many AP exams, Bowdoin often doesn’t award college credit but instead allows you to place out of introductory classes. So if you took the Calculus AB exam, you wouldn’t get math credits for it, but you could skip the equivalent calculus class at Bowdoin if you scored high enough. Unlike OSU, Bowdoin gives one credit for every AP exam it offers credit for; you don’t get more credit for certain exams.

If Ava attended Bowdoin, she wouldn’t earn any credit for her AP Bio score (but could place out of an introductory biology course), she wouldn’t get credit or placement for her AP English Language score, and she’d earn 1 credit for US History. Bowdoin requires 32 credits to graduate, so her AP credits wouldn’t make a huge difference, but with the one credit and testing out of introductory biology she’d have two extra spaces in her schedule which can be very helpful when trying to fit in all your graduation requirements or just to have time to take extra electives you’re interested in.

 

BROWN UNIVERSITY

Brown University doesn’t offer any college credit for AP classes. This is a fairly common policy amongst Ivy League schools (Harvard recently made the decision to stop offering college credit for AP courses). However, Brown does allow students to use certain AP scores to skip some entry-level courses and/or satisfy concentration requirements. So, although you won’t get college credits for your AP scores, you could begin college taking higher-level courses and having more room for electives because you can skip some intro courses. Here are the AP exams Brown allows students to skip intro classes for, along with the minimum AP exam score you need to earn.

  • Art History: 5
  • Biology: 4+
  • Calculus AB: 4+
  • Calculus BC: 3+
  • Environmental Science: 5
  • European History: 5
  • French Language: 4+
  • German Language: 4+
  • Italian Language: 4+
  • Latin: 4+
  • Microeconomics and Macroeconomics: need a 4+ on both exams
  • Physics 1 and Physics 2: Need a 5 on both exams
  • Physics C Mechanics: 5 OR a 4 along with a 5 in Physics C Electricity and Magnetism
  • Spanish Language: 4+
  • Spanish Literature: 4+
  • US History: 5
  • World History: 5

Clearly, this is a much more restrictive policy than the other two schools. You don’t actually earn any college credit from your AP classes, many exams don’t allow you to skip any intro courses, and for those that do, you generally need to score a 4 or 5 on the exam.

If Ava attended Brown, she obviously wouldn’t get college credit, but her AP Biology score would be enough for her to skip an introductory biology course giving her an extra spot in her schedule.

 

How Should You Use This Information?

AP credit policies can be an important consideration when choosing a college. I went to a high school that emphasized AP classes, and when I began deciding which colleges to apply to, I knew I didn’t want to attend one that wouldn’t give any college credit for my AP scores. Many students make similar choices.

Once you have an initial list of colleges you’re thinking about applying to, check out their AP credit policies. You can generally find this easily by Googling “[school name] AP credit policy.” Look through the credits/placements they offer for AP exams you’ve taken or plan to take. How many college credits you get for AP exams shouldn’t be your only college decision factor, but knowing that, say, one college would give you credit for taking an AP Calc class while another won’t may be a good tiebreaker if you’re struggling with which college to attend. 

This information can also help you choose which AP classes to take if you haven’t chosen your junior and/or senior classes yet. If the colleges you’re interested in offer college credit for, say, AP Statistics and also require all students take a stats course, you may decide to take AP Statistics in order to not have to take the class in college and have space for an elective instead.

One thing you shouldn’t do is choose to take AP classes solely because a college gives a lot of credit for them. You’ll likely end up in classes you find difficult and/or uninteresting, and, if the classes don’t relate to your major, you may end up with, say, a lot of economics college credits when those weren’t something you need to take in the first place. Try to strike a good balance where you take AP classes you’re interested in and, hopefully, can earn you some college credit and allow you to take the classes you’re most interested in while you’re in college.

 

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Summary: How Many College Credits Is an AP Class?

Do AP classes count as college credit hours? At many schools they do! If and how much college credit you earn depends mainly on three factors:

  • The AP exam(s) you take
  • The exam score(s) you earn
  • The AP score policy of your college

Public schools tend to offer more college credit than private schools, and there are some schools, often Ivy League schools and colleges that are especially small, that don’t offer college credit but allow students to use AP exam scores to skip introductory courses. When you have a list of colleges to apply to, check their AP credit policies to see how much college credit you can earn, then use that as a factor in your college decision making process.

 

What’s Next?

Which AP classes should you take? Read our guide to choose the best AP classes for you, based on your interests and college goals.

Which are the hardest AP classes?  Our in-depth article compares the difficulty of every AP class and gives a list of the top 6 hardest APs.

Also studying for the ACT/SAT? Come up with a target ACT or SAT score based on your top schools.

 

Looking for help studying for your AP exam?

Our one-on-one online AP tutoring services can help you prepare for your AP exams. Get matched with a top tutor who got a high score on the exam you’re studying for!

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Source: blog.prepscholar.com