Q. Does a high school student have to take an AP course before taking an AP exam?

A. No, the College Board does not require a student to take an Advanced Placement (AP) course before taking an AP exam. However, studies have shown that a higher number of students pass the exam if they have taken a year-long AP course than if they self-studied for the exam. AP courses and exams correspond to the most commonly offered college and university courses. The material is based on course content taught at top universities and is considered more academically challenging than community college coursework.

Arrangements for AP (Advanced Placement) tests should be made no later than March 1 by contacting a local high school or a private school. This gives the high school time to order the appropriate AP test prior to the nationwide testing date in May of each year.

You may request any AP test, even if the school does not offer the AP course. Due in part to HEAV’s efforts, Virginia law (§22.1-254.1(F)) requires all school districts to make Advanced Placement (AP) and Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) examinations available to homeschooled students.

A student can repeat the exam the following year. However, both scores will be reported unless the student requests that one score be canceled.

NOTE: Since 2007-2008, the “AP” designation has been trademarked by the College Board and cannot be used on a transcript unless the student has taken a course approved by the College Board or has passed the AP test. More information and a list of AP courses can be found on the College Board website; for further transcript information, please see HEAV’s Transcript Q&A and transcript service.