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How to make an AP course really count

Jul 06, 2009
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Here is a fact that some of you may already know: what you get on an AP exam plays little into your college admissions. Think about it, all that hard work and preparation for that exam, and it is used for credit rather than admissions? How can that be fair? Well, it is true that although you better your chances by taking an AP course versus a regular class, that 5 you worked so hard for on AP Physics C is basically no better than a 3 when colleges are considering admission. Most colleges give credit for AP courses if you score a 3 or better on the exam, with some exceptions. So you are probably wondering how you could make an AP course and grade better your chances of getting into your college of choice, and here is how.

Self-studying an AP course is the best, and probably only, way to really improve your transcript. It shows the college that you really enjoy learning and put in that extra effort to expand your knowledge. This combined with a high grade on the exam will also show the admission officers that you are capable of mastering material on your own, which will undoubtedly help you. So, if your high school only offers certain AP courses, take it upon yourself to study a course on your own.

But there are some rules that one should follow while attempting to self study a topic.
1. Choose a course that you are either interested in, or is based around your major. For example, if you are interested in computers or plan to be a computer engineer, self studying AP Computer Science may be one of the best courses you could choose.

2. Start your studies early. What many kids do is wait until a couple of weeks before the exam to begin to study. DO NOT DO THAT. It is near impossible to cram an entire year's worth of info into a couple of weeks. Begin studying early and work at a stable pace so you don't burn yourself out at the end.

It takes a lot of effort and self determination to self study a course and the best thing to do is to be real with yourself and decided whether or not you can handle it. If you truly believe you can do it, self studying will do nothing but help you.

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