Planning for College: Earning Homeschool AP Credit

How to earn homeschool AP credit

College tuition costs are generally determined by a specific charge per credit hour.  The average class is 3 hours for an undergraduate course, which right now at my state’s university would cost around $630.  The average bachelor degree requires 120 hours of courses, or over $25,000 and up.  These tuition rates have been climbing at a steady 5% a year.  Depressed yet?  Well don’t be.  There are ways to cut these costs way down, and as homeschoolers we have more opportunity than most to take advantage of them.

One of the easiest ways to lower tuition costs is to lower the number of credit hours your student has to pay for, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by earning credit in high school.

This post’s focus will be on earning homeschool AP credit.  AP stands for Advanced Placement and is a copyright of the College Board.

The AP tests are administered each May by the College Board (the same people who do the SAT and PSAT) at local public high schools around the country.  The tests generally last around 3 hours and include a combination of multiple choice and essay writing.  There are more than 35 different subjects available to earn AP credit.  The idea behind AP is that the student would study a particular subject during the school year at a college level and then take the test in May.  The student earns a high school credit for the course, and depending on their score and desired college, could also earn 3-6 hours of college course credit.

In order for a course to be labeled as AP, the College Board requires the school to submit the course outline to them for an AP Audit.  You can read more about that on their educator section here.  As homeschoolers, most of us don’t have the time or the need to submit our plans for the audit, because you can still teach the material without having the AP label.  So how do you do it?

I recommend purchasing one of the major AP study guides on the market for the subject you want to teach.  This will give you the framework you need to plan out your curriculum.  There are also a few online courses you can enroll your student in if you would prefer not to teach it yourself.  Our state virtual school has classes for all of the most popular AP tests.  You can read more about how I planned our own homeschool course here.

You are not required to do any particular coursework to sign up for most of the AP tests.  For some subjects, working through the one of the AP study guides could be enough to prepare your student to pass.  This is not usually the case, but it is an option.  These tests are rigorous, and the essay portion differs from test to test, so it’s important to take preparation seriously.

Each test is administered only once, either in the morning or afternoon.  As a homeschooler, you would need to call your local high school and ask to speak with their AP testing coordinator sometime in the first half of the school year, but absolutely no later than the first week in March.  Explain to them that you have a homeschool student that you would like to register for the AP test.  You usually will have to pay for the exam (around $80) and bring your student up to the school to fill out some sort of registration.  The College Board has information on their site about how we as homeschoolers can register for the exams here that might be useful to direct the school administrator to if you have any issues.

Your student will need to create an account online in order to receive updates and their test scores.  The https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/home page has all the information they need.  Test scores are usually released in July.  The College Board has a tab where you can type in the college or university your child wants to attend and see a list of the scores required and credits given.  This differs from school to school and it’s also a good idea to check with the college’s site as well to get the most up to date information.  In many cases, scoring a 4 on the exam will earn them 6 hours of credit!  In other words, an $80 test can earn you over $1200 worth of tuition reduction – a pretty good trade off if you ask me!