Published November 16, 2023

7 Things You Should Know Before You Sign up for AP Exams

Taking an AP course is a big step for students who want to be challenged and earn the plus of getting college credit. The excitement of possibly getting college credit can be overwhelming, but before you decide to take the AP exam, there are some important things to keep in mind, such as knowing where to find the right resources and AP Study Guides to make sure you get a 5! Knowing a few things about what AP exams you should take and which to avoid is SO IMPORTANT for your success in your AP courses. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the 7 essential things you should know before you register for AP exams.  

Course Prerequisites

AP course prerequisites are the essential background you need before diving into an AP class. It's important to check out these requirements, which are usually specific high school courses or prior knowledge, to ensure you're prepared for the AP course and its exam. These prerequisites make sure you have the foundation to handle the advanced content and intensity of AP classes. They vary depending on the subject, like needing Algebra I for AP Calculus or a strong background in biology for AP Biology. Knowing and meeting these prerequisites is crucial for being ready and confident in tackling an AP class and its exam.

Exam Schedule

Understanding the exam schedule is a crucial step in preparing for the day of the exam. Before registering, you need to know when your AP exam(s) will take place, as AP exams have different test days spread out throughout two weeks and thus, impact your planning and AP test prep. The AP exam schedule is typically set by the College Board and is released well in advance. Knowing the specific dates and times allows you to avoid scheduling conflicts with other commitments, such as exams, school activities, or personal events. It also gives you plenty of time to develop a study plan that aligns with your exam dates. You wouldn’t want to miss the exam because of a scheduling conflict, which would result in you missing the opportunity to get that coveted college credit! So, make sure you know when your exam schedule is so you can be prepared.  

Registration Deadlines

It's important to know the registration deadlines for AP exams, as well. These deadlines, typically set by your AP coordinator, vary from school to school. Make sure to ask your coordinator for the exact dates, and missing these deadlines can result in late fees or, in some cases, not letting you register for the exam altogether. By keeping these dates on your radar well in advance, you can plan effectively and avoid any unexpected complications. So, make sure to stay informed about registration dates and cancellations so you can navigate the process smoothly, sidestep unnecessary stress and financial setbacks, and make the most of your opportunity to earn college credit or advanced placement through your AP exams.

How much do AP Exams Cost?

Understanding the costs and fees that come with the possibility of college credit is extremely important, especially if you are not the one paying for your exam. These fees can vary from exam to exam, so make sure to check the exact cost of the exam you are taking to avoid any unexpected financial surprises. Additionally, some schools offer fee reductions or financial assistance programs, so being informed about these options can save you some money! Being well-informed about the costs and fees associated with the AP exam is a responsible and practical step to ensure you can focus on your exam preparation without financial stress.

What is the AP Exam Format?

Each AP exam has its unique structure, which may include multiple-choice questions, free-response questions, or a combination of both. It varies from subject to subject. Knowing the format in advance allows you to create your AP study strategy accordingly. You can divide up your time and resources to practice the types of questions you'll encounter, which will make sure you are the most prepared you can be! Overall, familiarizing yourself with the format helps reduce test-day anxiety we all know all too well since you'll know what to expect. Whether it's understanding the scoring rubrics for free-response questions or practicing time management for multiple-choice sections, being aware of the exam format will give you the confidence and mindset to ace that exam! 

College Credit and Placement

AP exams offer the potential to earn you college credits and advanced placement, but it's important to note that these policies can vary from one college to another. Different colleges and universities have their own specific guidelines for awarding credit and determining placement based on your AP scores. Some will accept 3s, some will not. Having this information in advance allows you to make informed decisions about which AP exams to take, tailor your AP study notes, and set score goals that align with your college and intended major. Ultimately, being well-informed about these policies ensures that you can make the most of your AP experience and transition smoothly into your college education. 


AP exams are renowned for their challenging content and rigorous testing format. Knowing how to prepare effectively allows you to gauge whether you have the time, AP resources, and commitment required to succeed. Familiarize yourself with prep strategies so you can make a decision about whether you're ready to tackle the demands of the AP course and exam. Additionally, early preparation knowledge lets you create a study plan that suits your learning style, and find the AP Study Guides that will be most effective for you, which will make sure that you have enough time to cover the material thoroughly and practice test-taking strategies. Ultimately, knowing how to prepare for the AP exam beforehand is instrumental in setting realistic expectations and increasing your chances of achieving a satisfactory score.

Final Thoughts 

Having a handle on these seven important thoughts before you jump into registering for an AP exam will help you greatly succeed. Whether you're figuring out prerequisite courses, nailing down registration deadlines, or understanding costs and credit policies, this knowledge puts you in the driver's seat. It's all about making informed choices that can truly shape your educational path. So, as you dive into the world of AP exams, keep these insights in your back pocket and approach the experience with confidence and purpose. It's not just a test; it's a step toward unlocking exciting opportunities in high school, college, and beyond.

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