Colleges vary widely in credit offered, so consider your specific college choice as you choose the exams you’ll take.
This article addresses credit offered at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo. Each year BYU publishes a chart indicating the current credit they will offer for each score of each AP test. Their chart sorts the information by test name, listing all 39 possible AP tests. When examining their chart, I find it challenging to extract the information and choose tests that will be most meaningful.
My modified chart, below, lists the same information but in a different way. Here, the tests are sorted by the BYU Core (also called General Education or GE) requirement they fulfill.
BYU accepts all credit earned through any passing score on any AP exam. The credit will either count towards GE requirements, specific classes, or simply elective credit. Elective credit does not count toward major or GE requirements but does count toward the 120 hour graduation requirement.
The most advantageous situation is to have AP tests fulfill the BYU Core. Nine of the BYU Core Requirements can be fulfilled by taking AP tests.
Each exam requires a passing score in order to receive credit, but frequently, a higher score will receive greater credit. For example, at BYU, a score of 3 on the Chemistry exam qualifies for 3 credit hours, a score of 4 on the same exam qualifies for 4 credit hours, while a score of 5 on the same exam qualifies for 7 credit hours.
Some of the language exams satisfy up to four classes, and can earn as many as 12 elective credits with the highest score.
The BYU Core requirements for Physical Science and for American Heritage each need two AP tests in order to be satisfied.
For Physical Science, a student may take any two of these three exams: Physics 1, Physics C: Mechanics, or Chemistry.
For American Heritage, students must fill two out of the three following categories: U.S. History, U.S. Government, and Economics. If a student takes one of the Economics exams, they must also take either U.S. History or U.S. Government to fulfill the other half of American Heritage. Microeconomics and Macroeconomics would both transfer to BYU, but only one would be used to satisfy the half of the American Heritage requirement.
If the guide lists multiple GE requirements as being fulfilled by an exam, then both requirements are covered if the student earns a high enough score on the exam. For example, if a student takes Calculus AB and earns a score of a 4, then both Quantitative Reasoning and Languages of Learning are completed. That also goes for a score of 4 or 5 on the Statistics exam. If a student scores well enough on both the Statistics exam and the Calculus exam, one will fulfill both of the BYU Core requirements, while the other would essentially be used as elective credit.
Similarly, Environmental Science satisfies both the requirement for Biological Science and the requirement for Global and Cultural Awareness.
Though it is possible to receive credit for the First-Year Writing GE requirement, BYU’s AP guide carries the written warning, “Entering students with AP English credit are strongly encouraged to take a First-Year writing course.” The guide further explains the context of their suggestion. “Studies show that doing so contributes greatly to their success at the university.” So, credit is possible, but, BYU advises that each student still take First-Year writing.
Is it possible to gain so many credit hours through AP testing that a student will no longer be considered an incoming freshman? No. The BYU registrar office explains, “High school graduates who have not done any further schooling are always considered new freshmen when applying and registering for their first semester of classes, regardless of AP or concurrent enrollment credit.” Once the student is admitted and attending BYU, the credits from AP exams will be included in the total number of credit hours for the student and will affect class standing and course registration dates.
On their admissions page, the BYU Admissions office encourages students to enroll in AP or IB classes where available. They explain that internal research at BYU correlates a higher first-year GPA at BYU with students who had AP or IB courses as part of their high school experience. As a result of this research, “BYU is very comfortable offering extra consideration in [the] admission evaluation for each AP or IB class appearing on a student’s high school transcript.” Encouraging students to take the AP/IB route rather than concurrent enrollment, they write, “In terms of getting accepted to BYU, then performing well at BYU, the AP/IB experience tends to put students at a real advantage.”
I hope my modified chart will help select the AP exams that will most meaningfully contribute to both your admissions application and your success at BYU. Doing so will help maximize the victory of AP.