Advanced Placement (AP) Studies

Perhaps the easiest and most effective way for a student to stand out academically for admissions is to score well on Advanced Placement tests offered by the College Board ( While these studies are for the academically gifted student, they can represent real dollar reductions in the cost of college. The student can receive a full year’s credit and be granted sophomore standing from more than 1,400 higher education institutions by earning satisfactory grades on enough AP Examinations.

Advanced placement is awarded by the college or university, not by the College Board. Some institutions specify certain courses or other requirements for sophomore standing. The college’s catalog usually provides a detailed description of that institution’s advanced placement policy. Credit is usually awarded when one is admitted, although some colleges and universities award sophomore standing only after the student has demonstrated the ability to do satisfactory college work.

When AP courses are added to the student’s curriculum, the result is a “weighted grade point average” (WGPA), such as 4.3 on a 4.0 scale. This may help with admissions, but check with the institution the student is interested in attending to get a complete description of its AP policy before assuming that the student will get an AP credit.

AP exams are offered in a variety of subjects and are scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. The College Board gives these tests each May. Many high schools offer students practice tests to familiarize themselves with the format. The following are just some of the AP courses offered:

  • Art Biology
  • Calculus AB
  • Calculus BC
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • English
  • Environmental Science
  • European History
  • French Language
  • French Literature
  • German Language
  • Government & Politics
  • International English Language
  • Latin
  • Music Theory
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Spanish
  • Statistics
  • U.S. History

Benefits Of Advanced Placement Courses

Some of the numerous benefits of AP courses are:

  • Study a subject in greater depth
  • Prepare for college caliber work
  • Improve the chances of getting into a competitive college
  • Increase the grade point average (GPA)
  • Reduce college costs
  • Increase time for special interest courses at college
  • Increase the options for double majors or upper level courses
  • Improve the ability to succeed in college
  • Increase eligibility for an AP Scholar Award (discussed in next section)

Advanced Placement Fee Information

Examination Fee

Each exam costs approximately $75. The school keeps about $7 of that to cover administrative expenses.

Fee Reductions

If the student is in acute financial need, check with the AP Coordinator about how to get a fee reduction credit.

Alternate Exam Surcharge

There is an approximate $40 surcharge for most alternate exams that a school has to order. For details refer to the AP Bulletin for Students and Parents.


If a student registers for an exam, but does not take it, the school is charged a fee. The school then decides if the student gets a refund for any other amount already paid. Once a student begins taking an exam, the fee is non-refundable.

Advanced Placement Scholar Awards

The AP Program offers several Advanced Placement Scholar Awards to recognize high school students who have demonstrated college-level achievement through AP courses and exams. In addition to receiving an award certificate, this achievement is acknowledged on any grade report that is sent to colleges the following fall.

The award calculation differentiates among exams that cover full-year college courses and those that cover half-year college courses. Results of exams corresponding to half-year courses are given half the weight of exam results corresponding to full-year courses. These courses are:

  • Computer Science A
  • Environmental Science
  • Comparative Government & Politics
  • Macroeconomics
  • U.S. Government & Politics
  • Microeconomics
  • Physics
  • C-Electricity & Magnetism
  • Physics C-Mechanics
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

Advanced Placement Award Levels

AP Scholar Award

Granted to students with grades of 3.0 or higher on three or more AP Exams on full-year courses (or the equivalent).

AP Scholar with Honor Award

Granted to students with an average grade of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken, and grades of 3.0 or higher on four or more of these exams on full-year courses (or the equivalent).

AP Scholar with Distinction Award

Granted to students with an average grade of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and grades of 3.0 or higher on five or more of these exams on full-year courses (or the equivalent).

AP State Scholar

Granted to the one female and one male high school student in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia with an average grade of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and grades of 3.0 or higher on the greatest number of exams. The minimum requirement is a grade of 3.0 or higher on three exams on full-year courses (or the equivalent).

National AP Scholar

Granted to students in the United States with an average grade of at least 4.0 on all AP exams taken, and grades of 4.0 or higher on eight or more of these exams on full-year courses (or the equivalent).

National AP Scholar (Canada)

Granted to students in Canada with an average grade of at least 4.0 on all AP Exams taken, and grades of 4.0 or higher on five or more of these exams on full-year courses (or the equivalent).

Department of Defense for Education Activity (DDEA) Scholar

Granted to the one male and one female student attending DDEA schools with the highest average grades on the greatest number of AP Exams. The minimum requirement is a grade of 3.0 or higher on three exams on full-year courses (or the equivalent).

AP International Scholar

Granted to the one male and one female student attending an American international school outside the U.S. and Canada (that is not a DDEA school) with the highest grades on the greatest number of AP Exams. The minimum requirement is a grade of 3.0 or higher on three exams on full-year courses (or the equivalent).

Internship/Co-op Education Programs

Internships for research and advanced studies are available at some colleges for the undergraduate student. Most are available to college juniors and seniors with outstanding academic records. These programs are usually funded by endowments contributed by alumni benefactors for specific fields of study. Options vary from working during the academic year or during summers, while some require the student to take time off from classes for specific research. Some colleges have applications for these internships, which are judged and decided upon objectively by a panel or committee. Other colleges have subjective, direct placement programs for internships.

Note: offers an on-line source of career and internship information. The website lists information on a wide range of internships and also includes hyperlinks to more than 3,000 corporate message boards, so that students can check out the pros and cons of any company’s programs with employees and former interns before signing on.

Co-op education programs are formalized arrangements between the college and specific firms and corporations which allow the student to alternate full-time enrollment with full-time employment. Students usually alternate semesters in jobs directly related to their field of study. In addition to helping students finance part of their studies, it allows them to develop concrete job skills and experience that will enhance their employability after graduation.

Co-op programs have become more popular lately, especially in technical programs such as accounting and computer science. These programs give the company an opportunity to review the student’s attitude and work ethic and many hire the student prior to graduation. Co-op programs not only reduce the student’s cost of college, but offer immediate job placement. In a competitive job field, these programs can reduce the intangible costs associated with the time and effort of job hunting.


College Level Examination Programs (CLEP)

CLEP is the most widely accepted credit-by-examination program in the United States today. While Advanced Placement (AP) courses are usually taken by above-average students, CLEP exams seem to benefit the average student and also the non-traditional (adult Ed) student. More than 2,900 colleges and universities now award credit for satisfactory scores on CLEP exams.

The CLEP program can help students:

  • Save time
  • Save money
  • Advance to more specialized courses

CLEP exams give students the opportunity to demonstrate college-level knowledge they’ve gained through prior study, independent study, professional experience, and cultural pursuits. In return, the student receives course credit, course exemption, or advanced placement toward a degree.

CLEP exams can save students time and money and put them on a faster track towards a college degree. High scores on CLEP exams can earn students as much as two years’ college credit!

Frequently Asked Questions About The CLEP Program

Who is eligible to take CLEP exams?

Anyone can take one or more of the 34 CLEP exams available. Students should take the exams for which they feel they are best prepared. Students enrolled in college should first check the college’s CLEP policy before taking any exam. Any student not yet enrolled should first check the list of Colleges Granting CLEP Credit.

When are CLEP exams offered?

CLEP exams are offered on a year-round basis, except for English Composition with Essay, which is offered only in January, April, June, and October. Each college sets their own CLEP testing schedule. Check with the CLEP Test Center at the college closest to you for their schedule.

How can I register for a CLEP Exam?

Contact your college test center, a local test center or even the national test center closest to you about their CLEP registration procedures and schedule. Each institution has its own procedures for student registration.

How much does it cost to take a CLEP Exam?

The test is approximately $70 plus the test center administration fee (generally $10).

How many CLEP exams may the student take?

Students are not limited to the number of exams they may take; however, most colleges and universities specify the maximum number of credits that can be granted. Check with your college for their policy.

How do I receive my scores?

Scoring is most often done within 48 hours after Educational Testing Service (ETS-the same people that monitor the SATs) receives the answer sheets. After a test is scored, a report will
be mailed to the student and also the college indicated on the answer sheet. If a college participates in the CLEPLUS™ program, scoring is done immediately on campus.

How are scores computed?

The number of correct answers is tallied and a fraction of incorrect answers is subtracted. There is no deduction for unanswered questions. The results are converted into scaled scores within the following ranges: 200-800 (for General Examinations) and 20-80 (for Subject Examinations).

Does my CLEP score count in my grade-point average?

Generally, a student is given credit by the college or university but no letter grade.

For which courses can I get credit?

This is determined by each college’s credit-by-examination and CLEP policy.

Can CLEP credits be transferred?

Yes. Check the CLEP policy of the institution to which a student wishes to transfer.

How do I prepare for a CLEP exam?

Use The Official Study Guide for the CLEP Examinations published by College Board, talk with advisers and faculty, and review textbooks in the appropriate subject area and other relevant sources.

Similar to Advanced Placement (AP) and SAT examinations, CLEP exams are conducted by the College Board (Educational Testing Systems). Their website is


Distance Learning

Distance Learning (DL), also known as Distance Education (DE), is simply learning from a distance, usually from home, or from a conveniently located off-campus site. DL allows adults to earn college credits, even entire degrees, without ever leaving home. DL makes use of the Internet, software, modems, TV stations, 2-way television using fiber optics, microwave, and digital phone lines, satellites, radio, ham radio, videocassette and audio tape, and the ever-popular mailbox, to deliver instruction.

Anyone who needs flexibility or just wants to reduce costs may find distance learning to be the best way to combine studies and life. The reduction in education costs can be considerable, from room costs to transportation to savings in time.

However, distance learning does require well-motivated, self-disciplined students who are able to manage their time and set deadlines. It’s easy for distance learners to neglect coursework because of personal or professional circumstances–unless they have compelling reasons to stay on track.

DL is for people who want to learn a new skill, or just pick up a few new ideas for the fun of learning. It is also a growing part of public and private schools from elementary level through high school, in many areas such as math, science, and languages.

Home schooling is also a type of DL. Typically, a home-schooled child is taught by the parents. Occasionally, the child is tutored at home in part or completely via modem or TV course.

DL is part of all degree types, from the A.A. to the Ph.D., and is an option in most majors, and at hundreds of universities worldwide. DL also includes non-credit courses, workshops, seminars and career credits like CECs (continuing education credits). Even though DL degrees do not follow a traditional course of study in classrooms, they are awarded based on the DL equivalent of college credits earned.

For most students, DL remains primarily a book and paper proposition, as well as an independent study effort, but is made more convenient with the delivery of information via the Internet, the web, online services, telephone, TV, satellite courses, VHS tapes, cassette tapes, records, radio, ham radio, and CD-ROM.

Many DL programs are correspondence courses where books, materials, and coursework are exchanged through the mail. However, there are courses that are completely electronic, such as interactive multimedia courses, and group learning in virtual classrooms.

DL also involves testing out of courses (CLEP exams) by demonstrating subject mastery through a single examination and earning college credit for life and work experience. Many people complete long unfinished Bachelor’s degrees through the use of these CLEP exams.

Facts And Fictions About Distance Learning

MYTH: Distance learning is about technology-driven classes.

FACT: Distance learning is not about modems and computers. Nor is it about video, satellites or interactive TV. DL programs merely enable students remote from the institution to get access to educational opportunities.

MYTH: A degree achieved at a distance is not worth as much as a traditionally earned degree. The work isn’t as challenging.

FACT: MaryLee King, director of student services at Marylhurst College in Portland, Oregon, states, “If anything, DL puts more responsibility on the student. Dozens of studies–conducted over the last 70 years–have shown no significant difference between the results of a distance education and the results of classroom study. In fact, more recent studies show that engaging online classes can be more successful than traditional courses because of the capacity of the technology to customize the learning opportunity.”

MYTH: There are only limited amounts of course study available.

FACT: Most courses and programs that one can study in a classroom are now available–or are becoming available–at a distance. “Everything is available,” says Rich Halberg, director of California Virtual University. “All the way from extension courses–we have a class on wine-tasting online–to health courses, to accredited PhD programs.”

MYTH: I’m in danger of getting ripped off by a diploma mill.

FACT: If one does the proper research and checks out each college and its accreditation, this is unlikely.