teaching tips blog


Aug 15, 2013

When Can I Designate a Course as Advanced Placement (AP) on the Transcript?

Diane Kummer

I receive questions from homeschool parents relating to when a course may be designated as AP or Advanced Placement on the transcript.  The answer may surprise some of you!

According to the College Board website, in order for a course to be designated “AP” or “Advanced Placement” on the high school transcript, the course must be reviewed by the AP Audit Department of the College Board. A course bearing an AP designation signifies that the College Board has determined the course meets its standards for this level of course. Homeschool parents may go through the process of having the College Board review course materials.  The process is outlined and specific details are given on the College Board website.  In addition, the College Board provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the process.   

If you plan to have your teen take an online AP course, check with the instructor of the course to verify whether the instructor has had the course approved by the College Board.

The College Board administers AP tests. Any homeschool student may register to take an AP test in any of the 34 subject areas.  As preparation to do well on the AP test, students often take an AP course during the school year, and then take the AP test in May.

There are three scenarios:

1.  A student takes both an approved AP course and also the AP test.  Taking an approved AP course boosts the grade point average because grades in AP courses are typically increased by one point when calculating GPA.  For example, an A in a standard high school course is given 4 points when calculating grade point average, but an A in an AP course is given 5 points (likewise, a B in a standard course is given 3 points while a B in an AP course is given 4 points and so on.)  After taking the course, the student takes the AP test administered by the College Board, and if he scores high on the test, he may earn college credit.  Each college determines which AP tests it recognizes and the minimum AP test score needed to earn college credit.

2.  A student studies independently (does not take an AP approved course) and then takes the AP test.  In this case, the course cannot be designated AP on the transcript, but if the student receives a high AP test score, it may count for college credit.

3.  A student takes an approved AP course, but does not choose to take the AP test.  The student may list the AP course on the transcript if the course has been approved by the College Board, but if he does not take the AP test, then no college credit is earned.

For more details on AP tests and courses see these HSLDA and College Board links:

AP students College Board home, AP Courses online, AP Tests, and The Lowdown on AP, CLEP, and Dual Enrollment (Newsletter).

If you are an HSLDA member and have questions relating to AP courses or tests, feel free to call or email me and I would be pleased to help you sort it all out!