What exactly is an AP class?

Definition: Advanced Placement or AP courses are college-level classes taught on high school campuses. They generally involve significantly more challenging curriculum and more rigorous homework than non-AP classes, and they culminate in a high stakes exam, administered by the College Board on high school campuses in early May.

The spring exam costs around $86 per class, runs two to three hours, and is graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with a 3 constituting a passing grade and a 4 or 5 being even more desirable. Many universities offer course credit for a high score, or allow students to skip the corresponding class in college. APs also give added heft to a college application, because they tell admissions officers that the applicant has taken – and succeeded at – college-level work, and the grades are “weighted,” i.e., a B in an AP class is worth an A in a regular class.

Also Known As: Advanced Placement

Because Jane scored 5s on so many of her AP classes – calculus AB, German, European History and so on – she started college as a second semester freshman.


From the Lake Travis High School 2010-2011 Course Catalog:

Pre-Advanced Placement (Pre-AP) in High School

Students will receive high quality, rigorous instruction in all courses at LTHS. Students may choose to take advanced classes appropriate to their interests and academic strengths. Pre-AP courses are open enrollment and are designed to prepare students to be successful in AP classes. The number of Pre-AP courses varies with the students’ motivation, self-discipline, and available time outside of class. Students are not expected to enroll in Pre-AP courses in all core subject areas.

Recommended Prerequisites include:

  • A grade of 85 or higher in a related academic content area course
  • Scores at the commended level on the most recent corresponding TAKS test

Characteristics of a Successful Pre-AP Student:

  • Excellent study and organizational skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Persistence in pursuing goals
  • A strong sense of responsibility
  • The ability to become an independent learner
  • A desire to be academically successful
  • Proficient oral and written communication skills

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