Ask a Nerd!

Question: Can I take the AP exams if I am an international student?

Brief: In short, yes. If you are applying to a school in the US and you get a score of 3, 4 or 5 on your AP exam (our Orange County AP testing tutors are here to help you succeed), then it may count towards credit at a college or university in the USA. But, as usual, it is more complicated than a simple answer.


International students can take the AP exams and receive credit at a US college. The College Board recommends a two year plan for international students who want to receive credit for AP exams and attend college in the USA. This process will include being successful on several exams that need to be taken as well as gathering information about US colleges in general (International College Board).

International students who are now living in the US, or who will be in the US soon, can take the AP exams here. However students who wish to take the AP exams while living outside of the US can still do so (READ: “Taking the AP Exam“).

AP-testing-tutoringAP courses are offered in many countries outside of the US, so the first thing to do is inquire at your local secondary school (high school in the US). Actually, international students may be able to receive credit from an AP exam even if they want to attend college outside of the US. Students who do not know which country they want to attend university in, can also earn an APID (Advanced Placement International Diploma). This is a great opportunity for students who want to study internationally but who also want to keep their options open until the day they choose their post-secondary institution. However, this diploma is not for the faint of heart, as it requires a passing score on at least five AP exams in certain categories (READ: “Last Minute AP Study Guide“).

Students who live outside of the US can benefit from AP study for a number of reasons. For instance, US colleges are generally familiar with the standards set by US based public, as well as many private, high schools. US colleges know about Common Core standards and other baselines of academic achievement. However, they may not be as familiar with international institutions of learning at the secondary level. Taking AP courses or taking AP exams provide a standard of excellence that colleges and universities in the US are familiar with.

Why it’s good to take AP courses

It’s a good idea for international students to take AP courses even if they are applying to both US based universities as well as universities in countries other than their place of residence. Because AP is an internationally recognized standard in many countries, the credit may be used at many fine learning institutions. Regardless, international students should do their research and do it well in advance. AP exams may not be offered on the same dates or in exactly the same way as in the US, so advanced planning is highly advised.

Students who speak English as their second language (even if they are fluent) may especially benefit from taking the AP English language exam in addition to the TOEFL exam.

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