Advanced Placement (AP) subjects are offered in most high schools, and the AP tests are therefore offered as well . This article reviews the AP test subjects, advanced placement test scoring, and the pros and cons of advanced placement exams/tests.

Beginning in 1955, Advanced Placement courses have been offered to high school students in order to provide them with challenging classes to prepare them for college, as well as to help them with college admissions. At first offered in only 104 schools, today the AP Exams are offered in about five-eighths of the US high schools- around 15,000 of the 24,000 high schools in the country. Keep reading to get more of the scoop on the AP Exams.

The Advanced Placement Test Subjects

There are currently thirty-four Advanced Placement tests and corresponding courses being offered:

Art History

Environmental Science

Latin: Vergil


European History

Music Theory

Calculus AB

French Language

Physics B

Calculus BC

French Literature

Physics C


German Language


Chinese Language and Culture

Comp Government and Politics

Spanish Language

Computer Science A

U.S. Government and Politics

Spanish Literature

Computer Science AB

Human Geography



Italian Language and Literature

Studio Art


Japanese Language and Literature

U.S. History

English Language

Latin Literature

World History

English Literature



However, three AP Exams from this group - AP Computer Science AB, AP French Literature, and AP Latin Literature - will be offered for the last time in May, 2009. The College Board has explained that these courses and exams, while expensive to maintain, serve a very small percentage of students and that most of these students are taking other AP courses as well. The implication is that students who have taken these courses will still be able to use AP exams to boost their high school academic experience and present to college admissions.

There is a charge for Advanced Placements tests and for reporting test scores to colleges.  Each test costs $86, and each score sent out over and above the allotment built into the test fee costs $15. There are other services available, too, each with a fee. However, the AP Test Fee Program, administered by the Secretary of Education, provides grants to states in order that they might pay Advanced Placement Test fees on behalf of low-income students.

Advanced Placement Test Scoring

Advanced Placements Tests are scored on a 5-point scale. Students who earn a score of 3 or above may earn college credit for the course. AP Test scores are customarily sent to college admissions committees by applicants who use them as one means to establish their academic credentials.

Many students take multiple AP courses and tests. Students may take AP exams in multiple years, and many students take them both as juniors and seniors. In addition, some courses, such as AP Economics and AP Physics, culminate in two exams.

Criticism of the Advanced Placement Tests

The Advanced Placement Tests have been pointed to for not doing as much for minority students as they might. With the exception of Asian students, who - while accounting for only 6 percent of the student population - accounted for 11 percent of the test takers, minorities such as African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanics were, overall, underrepresented in the test-taking population.

Suggestions have been made that expanding the AP program to more urban schools would help increase the participation of black students in the AP test program.  In addition, increased focus on minority accomplishment in middle school and early high school in order that students attain a level that will promote success on the AP exam has been suggested.

At the same time, there is a strong concern that the AP test program not become diluted as it becomes more and more widespread. To this end, the College Board has implemented a national audit in order to insure that courses that carry the Advanced Placement name meet its criteria.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Articles
Preparing for ACT