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All About AP Exams

Choose your AP courses strategically

What is AP exam? Advanced Placement or AP exams are conducted by College Board (same global body that conducts SAT) every year in a wide variety of college-level subjects ranging from Calculus and Computer Science to Art History and English Composition. The main aim of AP exams is to test your ability and acumen to measure up to the rigors of undergraduate curriculum in US and other global universities. Moreover, since Indian (or international) students belong to diverse school boards (CBSE, ICSE, SSC, HSC, and other National Curriculums), AP exams provide a standardised yardstick to judge every applicant’s strength and conceptual understanding on a common ground.

What does it mean by ‘advanced placement’?  If you score well in your AP exams, universities might allow you to skip these introductory courses, as per your selected major, and go straight into ‘advanced’ level courses. As a result, students can also graduate early. This not only saves time and efforts but also reduces financial burden when studying at a foreign university.

What are the benefits of AP Exam? There are several benefits of taking AP exams such as –

  • Earning extra credits – Students can earn credits based on the score they have received in each of their AP exams. For example, let’s say you scored a 5 in your Computer Science exam and you have received an admit from Columbia University. Upon joining Columbia, you will get 3 credits transferred to your undergraduate degree, which requires a total of 124 credits, as well as you will be exempted from taking the “Introduction to Computer Science” subject.
  • Demonstrating college readiness – Given the difficulty level of AP exams, appearing for these exams in high school demonstrates your robust fundamentals as well as your calibre to excel at college-level courses.
  • Differentiating your profile – Like SAT, Research Papers, Essays, and Extracurricular activities, AP exams also help in differentiating your profile when applying for admission to Ivy Leagues and other top universities. It strengthens your overall application and makes a powerful case for students to receive scholarships from universities.
  • Opening up more opportunities – Since students with exceptional AP scores are exempted from introductory classes in their undergrad, they can invest their time in pursuing an internship, research project or even a double major

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 Courses offered – In India, AP exams are being offered in 23 different subjects in Sciences, World Language & Culture, Arts, History and Social Science, Computer Science, Math, and English. For detailed coursework and modules please click here. Refer to the table below for some of the most popular AP Courses in India –

AP Calculus AB8 units – Limits and Continuity; Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties; Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions; Contextual Applications of Differentiation; Analytical Applications of Differentiation; Integration and Accumulation of Change; Differential Equations; Applications of Integration
AP Calculus BCIn addition to the topics covered in AP Calculus AB, Calculus BC has 2 more units namely Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Valued Functions  and Infinite Sequences and Series
AP Physics 1 – Algebra Based7 units – Kinematics; Dynamics; Circular Motion and Gravitation; Energy; Momentum; Simple Harmonic Motion; Torque and Rotational Motion
AP Physics 2 – Algebra Based7 units – Fluids; Thermodynamics; Electric Force, Field, and Potential; Electric Circuits; Magnetism and Electromagnetic Induction; Geometric and Physical Optics; Quantum, Atomic, and Nuclear Physics
AP Physics C – Electricity & Magnetism5 units – Electrostatics; Conductors, Capacitors, Dielectrics; Electric Circuits; Magnetic Fields; Electromagnetism
AP Physics C – Mechanics7 units – Kinematics; Newton’s Laws of Motion; Work, Energy, and Power; Systems of Particles and Linear Momentum; Rotation; Oscillations; Gravitation
AP Biology8 units – Chemistry of Life; Cell Structure and Function; Cellular Energetics; Cell Communication and Cell Cycle; Heredity; Gene Expression and Regulation; Natural Selection; Ecology
AP Chemistry9 units – Atomic Structure and Properties; Molecular and Ionic Compound Structure and Properties; Intermolecular Forces and Properties; Chemical Reactions; Kinetics; Thermodynamics; Equilibrium; Acids and Based; Applications of Thermodynamics
AP Environmental Science9 units – The Living World: Ecosystems; The Living World: Biodiversity; Populations; Earth Systems and Resources; Land and Water Use; Energy Resources and Consumption; Atmospheric Pollution; Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution; Global Change
AP Computer Science A10 units – Primitive Types; Using Objects; Boolean Expressions and if Statements; Iteration; Writing Classes; Array; ArrayList; 2D Array; Inheritance; Recursion
AP Macroeconomics6 units – Basic Economic Concepts; Economic Indicators and the Business Cycle; National Income and Price Determination; Financial Sector; Long-Run Consequences of Stabilization Policies; Open Economy—International Trade and Finance
AP Psychology9 units – Scientific Foundations of Psychology; Biological Bases of Behavior; Sensation and Perception Learning; Cognitive Psychology; Developmental Psychology; Motivation, Emotion, and Personality; Clinical Psychology; Social Psychology
AP Microeconomics6 units – Basic Economic Concepts; Supply and Demand; Production, Cost, and the Perfect Competition Model; Imperfect Competition; Factor Markets; Market Failure and the Role of Government
AP Art History10 units – Global Prehistory, 30,000–500 BCE; Ancient Mediterranean, 3500 BCE–300 CE; Early Europe and Colonial Americas, 200–1750 CE; Later Europe and Americas, 1750–1980 CE; Indigenous Americas, 1000 BCE–1980 CE; Africa, 1100–1980 CE; West and Central Asia, 500 BCE–1980 CE; South, East, and Southeast Asia, 300 BCE–1980 CE; The Pacific, 700–1980 CE; Global Contemporary, 1980 CE to Present
AP English Literature & Composition9 units – Short Fiction I; Poetry I; Longer Fiction or Drama I; Short Fiction II; Poetry II; Longer Fiction or Drama II; Short Fiction III; Poetry III; Longer Fiction or Drama III

Popular AP Exams in India

Dates and Duration – AP exams are conducted every year in May. Please click here to refer to May 2022 AP exam timetable. Duration of AP exams vary from 1.5 hour to 3.5 hours depending on the subject.

Registration – To reserve a seat at an authorized test center, first round of registration takes place between September and mid-November. Some schools (test centers) also offer a second round of registration from February to mid-March with additional fees. You may register for different AP exams at different test centers throughout India. However, not all the test centers offer AP exams in all the subjects; therefore, please check beforehand to avoid any last-minute cancellations.

Fees – Normally the exams are priced at 9,500 INR; however, each test center will have its own fee structure. Please check with the respective school before making the payment. Also, since these test centers work independently, fees, exam cancellation and refund policies may differ from each other.

I want to apply to UK universities, in addition to the US. Should I still appear for AP exams? Yes. Definitely. More than 500 universities across 75 nations including Canada, Australia, UK, recognize AP scores and AP credits for admission and scholarship purposes. Find universities that recognize AP.

How many additional attempts can I take? – This is no limitation on the number of attempts. You may retake AP exam(s) in a subsequent year. In such cases, both scores will be reported to the universities you are applying to unless you make a specific request to cancel the score.

How many AP Exams should I appear for? – On an average, students take three to four AP exams in their high school tenure. However, there is no limit. Depending upon your course load and academic pressure, you may appear for as many AP exams as you want.

When is the best time to appear for AP Exams? You must be under the age of 21 at the time of the exams. Normally, students appear for AP exams in their XI or XII grade, just before applying to universities abroad.

Important things/documents to carry – Starting May 2022, test centres in India will only accept original, valid passports for student identification while administering the AP Exam. If you don’t bring your valid passport to the test venue on exam day, you won’t be permitted to take the exam. Therefore, plan any passport processing applications well ahead of time.

As AP exams are pen-and-paper-based exams with a mix of Multiple Choice Questions and Free Response Questions, you will be allowed to carry Number 2 or HB pencils, black/blue ink pens, ruler, watch (without any alarms or internet connection), and a calculator based on the exam you are appearing for. Any type of food/drinks are strictly not permitted.

Validity of Scores – Your AP scores remain valid until you commence your undergraduate studies, regardless of whether you took it in Grade IX, X, XI, or XII. Your results will be stored with College Board, if you had appeared for AP exams more than four years ago. To get a copy of your archived scores, you will need to send a request to college board along with a minimal processing fee.

How should I prepare for AP exams? – You can self-study with the help of lectures, videos, and study materials provided on the College Board website. However, it will be difficult to keep yourself motivated and on-track with your school exams, submissions, and assignments going on in tandem. Therefore, it is highly advisable to work with a tutor and be prepared on time. Generally, students take approximately 5-6 months to prepare for AP exams.

Interpreting the AP score and grading system – Most universities and colleges give credits for AP score of 3 or higher. The number of credits you will receive solely depends on the university you are applying to.

AP ScoreCredit RecommendationCollege Grade Equivalent
5Extremely Well QualifiedA
4Well QualifiedA-, B+, B
3QualifiedB-, C+, C
2Possibly QualifiedN/A
1No RecommendationN/A

About the Author: 

Nimisha Padliya is an Admissions Specialist with extensive experience in undergraduate and graduate admissions. Over the years, she has helped hundreds of students in securing admissions to their dream universities. Nimisha is a post-graduate in Electrical & Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, US.

Scholarly helps ambitious international students locate the right universities and courses to pursue their education. We provide college credit courses and research papers to students that want to learn more and differentiate themselves. We help students develop and present their best version to their dream university. Our recommendations are based on the student’s field of interest, academic performance, financial resources and career plans. We provide test preparation classes from the best teachers to help improve scores and thus the prospects for admission. We also assist students with their visa and loan applications to reduce the anxiety associated with international education.

For additional questions about international education, choice of majors, university selection or admission strategies please visit the Questions section of our website.

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