Taking the AP Test Without the Class

In 2015, high school students are faced with an increasing amount of competition in order to gain entrance to university or college. One of the hurdles that the majority of high school students face is how to score a 5 on their AP exams (READ: “Ask a Nerd! Taking the AP Exam“). Some students will use these accolades as a way to gain acceptance to college while other students will use them as a way to attempt to graduate university in four years and avoid being a 5th year senior.


The cost of education in the United States continues to rise, and students who score a 3 on any of their AP exams will be able to use them for college credit. Students can, potentially, have an entire semester or more of classes under their belt prior to even starting their college career.

Although the majority of students who have the opportunity to take AP classes will benefit from such an experience, some students will not have the opportunity to take classes in certain subject areas. Some students have talents that lie outside of history and math – the most popular AP courses offered – and others will live in rural or remote areas where AP classes may be severely limited if offered at all.

Students who do not have an opportunity to take AP classes at school deserve a chance to be able to score at least a 3. There should be no misunderstanding that this is a substantial commitment and such students will need to conduct a substantial amount of guided self-study with the help or an Orange County AP test tutor.

Getting Started

1. Students should purchase the test prep book before even considering signing up for the exam. It’s important for students to do this the summer before their AP exams so they have plenty of time to determine whether they will be able to take on this responsibility by themselves. Upon purchasing a test prep book, students should take a full-length practice test and either grade it themselves using the instructions in the book or ask a teacher or educational consultant to grade it for them (READ: “Ask a Nerd! Mastering AP English Language“).

If the student scores a 3, or even a 2, this early on they may have a chance to pass the real test without the opportunity of taking the class at school.

2. Next, students should find educational support. Students who live in urban or suburban areas may be able to find a tutor or study group with ease while students who live in rural or remote areas may find this more difficult. However, with the advent of social and educational technology, even students in the most remote areas of the US will have educational opportunities online. They should consider creating a Google+ Circle or finding a group of students throughout the US who are also conducting self-study and form a virtual study group, preferably in the same time zone.

Once a test prep book and educational support has been arranged, students should find the textbook that their teacher would have used (if the class had been offered). Self-study AP students are advised to contact their teacher at school to get a good recommendation or look for the book on the College Board website. Again, with so many teachers and students connecting online, an appropriate textbook recommendation should be relatively easy to find these days.

Commencing Study

5. Students who plan on prepping for the AP exam (which is given in May) starting in March are not likely to receive a score of 3 or higher. Students should view it as an independent study class and begin reading through their textbook starting in September. Students who are in an AP class will probably spend five hours a week with their teacher and peers and an additional five hours – or more – conducting self-study or working within a group. Self-study AP students should attempt to mimic this time commitment, allowing anywhere between 5 and 10 hours of self-study and time with their virtual study group as well as 5 hours of self-instruction (READ: “Ask a Nerd! Grades and AP Class“). This can be done with the help of a private tutor or using the test prep book as a guideline.

Although it is generally better to take the full AP class, students who do not have this opportunity are still allowed, and should be encouraged, to attempt to take AP exams. With all the technological and educational online resources available today there’s no reason why students in remote areas or whose talents lie outside of the core subjects should be denied the opportunity to receive advanced placement credit while in high school.

AP College Board

Regardless of what grade you’re in, it’s important to finish the year strong. That being said, make sure you book your Orange County academic tutor early! Here’s to a successful 2015.

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