4 Benefits of Self-Studying for AP Tests

By Maxine Seya

Are there any benefits to self-studying for AP tests?


Typically, anyone who signs up and pays can take AP exams, even if your student hasn’t taken the corresponding AP course at school.

From the College Board website:

“We recommend taking the AP course before taking an AP Exam—but it’s not required. We want to be sure homeschooled students and students in schools that don’t offer AP can take AP Exams.”

As a high schooler, I took an AP exam without taking the course. I got a 5, submitted those scores to Northwestern, and got college credit for it.

4 Benefits of Self-Study

Because of this, taking an AP exam in early high school can benefit your student in 4 ways.

1. You can graduate from college earlier.

Depending on the college, you can get college credit toward graduation with AP scores of 3, 4, or 5. Sometimes even a 2. Here’s a way to determine how many college credits you’ll get and what scores are required.

2. You can take more advanced classes earlier in college.

Some colleges won’t allow you to replace college-level courses even with perfect AP scores. But they’ll let you take more advanced classes in lieu of those introductory classes. For example, if you get a 5 on AP Chem, you may still need to take a chem class at that college, but can take an advanced chem instead of an intro chem.

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.