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AP Exams, when should you take?

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Hi everyone! I'm new to the WTM boards and am so relieved to have found them. I've been doing classical ed for years now, but have been totally alone (my area is very rural and most homeschoolers here aren't interested in classical ed) in it. I am so relieved to have found a whole community pursuing classical education!


Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone could give me input as to "when" a kid should take an AP exam. Obviously, not until they've mastered the material...but does it need to be in their senior year? Or can a freshman take it if they have done an AP course, and still have the AP count toward possible college credit (per the college's AP policy, of course)?


My son, 14 in October, has been doing US history (really great, free iTunes U course with a Yale professor!) this summer and I was thinking of bumping the coursework up to AP level and letting him sit for the exam. I'm just wondering if the college would take the AP score seriously if it's a few years old when he applies.


Thanks for any input!



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It is fine to take AP exams freshman year if your student is ready. For admissions purposes, APs can provide important outside validation of your transcript. So, for that reason, I would not wait until senior year if your student is ready earlier.


If you've not already done so I would encourage you to visit the AP section of the College Board website. There is a lot of great information including information about what is on the exam, suggested course outlines, and past test examples.

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Welcome here! Like you, I've found this board incredibly helpful for finding resources and companionship when choosing to follow a more deeply academic homeschooling path. It's rare where we live too.


As a pp said, take AP exams any year your student is ready. Ideally, you'll want some before senior year so you can have test scores before applying. You may already know this, but just in case... they're only offered once per year in May.

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I added a tag at the end of the thread (look at the bottom of the page of replies) that should take you to a number of other AP threads.


For courses that I want to have considered as part of the admissions cycle for college (IE, I want the admissions office to see that he has demonstrated capability with rigorous courses) I will make sure that exams are taken no later than the end of Junior year.


For other courses, it will depend on when I think my sons are ready for the exams. Some might be possible earlier; some may wait for senior year. I will try to keep in mind the relative difficulty of the exams. (Just as an example, AP US History (APUSH) is often taken by juniors. If mine took it early, I would need to make sure that my kids are really ready for the level of detail and the document based questions.)


Welcome to the board.

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  • 1 month later...

I took 21 AP tests total. I took 3 my sophomore year and 18 my junior year.


I have a ton of info on my experience here: http://emilyxie.com/category/school/ap-tests/


However, I would suggest that students take AP tests when they are comfortable. It can be a very stressful experience, I know it was for me. I would say start small, and if they do well, take more or the same amount.

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I have recently seen something about a very few colleges that only want test scores for junior or senior years, but around here folks start taking them as early as 9th grade.


The real tricky part maybe locating a place to take some exams. You need both a place holding the exam and for the place to be cooperative to allowing your student to take the exam.

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