Advanced Placement Frequently Asked Questions

AP is an official, trademarked title and in order to advertise a class as “AP” you need to go through a course audit. However, anyone can prep for an AP test and taking an AP class is NOT required. The College Board wants as many students to take the AP tests as possible, and they make it easy to prep. This is something a homeschooler can do!

Advantages of AP Tests

  • Demonstrates mastery
  • Build academic portfolio
  • Offers a clear goal
  • Universally recognized accomplishment
  • Cost to credit ratio

Disadvantages of AP Tests

  • No flexibility on timing or material
  • Colleges vary widely in credit offered (rejected by some)
  • Graded on a curve
  • Requires coordination to schedule the test

How old does my child need to be to take AP tests?

Any high school age student can take an AP test. In some cases, 8th grade students can also qualify to take a test. AP doesn’t set out formal requirements for the exam. However, test scores are only valid for four years. If the student is applying to a university and needs scores more than 4 years old, there is a fee of $25 per test score

What can be done without spending any money?

There are things you can learn immediately, without buying an expensive textbook or review book. Many AP teachers generously post materials for free. Libraries carry many review materials. There are many MOOCs available. There is no need for AP classes to be expensive.

What are some of the common textbooks for this course?

The College Board provides lists many examples of different possible textbooks and pacing for each exam. Just search “AP example syllabus” for your particular exam. Or, you can begin looking at what other high schools use by reviewing their online syllabus.

How do I know if my child is ready for AP tests?

Some AP tests require prerequisites, but if you aren’t sure if your child is ready, try doing a MOOC first and see how that feels. We’ve chosen to do AP Chemistry and AP Biology as the first year study. We didn’t do any other “Chemistry 1” or “Biology 1.” We may have had to work a little harder, but it was OK.

What do professionals in this field consider “pleasure reading” on the subject?

Try searching for “summer reading” or look on Good Reads or Amazon for “fun reading on [subject.]”

Who else do we know learning this material?

You can find online communities through forums or instagram. Look for teachers posting videos. Ask in email groups for homeschoolers doing high school.

How do I register for the exam?

In order to take an AP test, you need to sign up through your public school system. In our area, we are required to reach out to the high school we would be attending if we were in the public school system and then we are directed to the high school that will be hosting each exam. We have to pay the $95 exam fee directly to the host school. The deadline is usually mid-October.

What if I don’t personally know the material for the course?

  • Learn along with (or one step ahead of) the student
  • Have the student learn independently
  • Arrange a professional to be a mentor
  • Encourage them to self-study

How can we begin?

Start by outlining the course. Make sure to think about these questions: How will you celebrate your success? What books will you read? What pace seems appropriate for your time frame? How will you provide accountability?