Frequently Asked Questions about AP

1.    What are AP Courses?

Advanced Placement (AP) courses are courses that meet a prescribed syllabus developed by the College Board.  These courses represent college level study and prepare students to take an examination in May.  The examination is scored on a scale of 1-5.  Scores of "3" or higher are considered "qualifying" scores by the College Board.  Colleges typically consider AP courses favorably when making admissions decisions.  In addition, based on each college's policy, students can earn:

  • Actual college credit for high AP scores -- increasingly, colleges require a score of "4" or "5" to receive full credit.
  • Elective college credit for high AP scores -- such courses cannot fulfill specific college requirements, but can be used to fulfill elective requirements.
  • Advanced Placement -- allowing students to skip the introductory level of a course
  • Sophomore Standing -- this usually requires numerous high AP scores.
  • Permission to take the college's own placement test for credit and/or placement.

Individual college policies differ, and often individual departments within the same college may have different policies.  There are some colleges which give placement only, and some colleges which afford no recognition.  While a "3" is the recommended score by the College Board, there are a few instances where a "2" may be recognized, and other instances in which a "4", or even a "5" is required.  Check with individual colleges for their policies or with the College Board credit policy information list.

2.   What AP courses are available?

There are over two dozen AP examinations.  Woodson offers course work preparing students for at least twenty of these examinations. Please see our current listing.

3.   When do students normally take these courses?  What are the prerequisites?

Most AP courses are taken by eleventh and twelfth graders.  The AP World History course is the tenth grade Honors class in social studies, and a few sophomores will take other AP electives.  AP English Language and Composition and AP US History are the Honors eleventh grade classes in English and Social Studies.  In addition to these courses, many juniors take AP courses in one or more of the following areas: science, foreign language, art, social studies (European History & Psychology) and in some cases mathematics.

Some AP courses have specific prerequisites as listed in the Standard Course Offerings.  Students interested in AP courses are encouraged to consider taking honors classes in prior years where these are available. 

4.   How many AP courses do typical Woodson students take?

This varies from student to student.  High school is a time of both academic and personal development.  Students need to challenge themselves as part of that development.  Academically, students are encouraged to take the most challenging courses they can complete and do well in (getting mostly A’s and B’s) while still maintaining a healthy life balance. 

Students should take coursework that is right for them. Then, they should find the post-secondary option that is best for them.  In order to determine the best academic challenge, a student should work with his/her current teachers who will know the student’s abilities as well as with his/her counselor.

5.  What is the Governor’s Early College Scholars Program?

The state of Virginia will recognize as Early College Scholars students who meet certain academic requirements upon graduation. 

6.  Does a student need to be in a course to take an exam?  

Any student may register for and take any AP examination. Those taking an examination on an independent study basis must pay for the examination.

Non-Enrolled Student AP Exam Order Form

7.   Do students earn special credit on their Grade Point Average by taking the AP Exams or taking AP courses? How about Honors Courses?

Students earn a weighted grade (an additional 1.0) for completion of an AP course. It is optional to take the corresponding AP Exam for that course. Honors and pre-AP courses earn a weighted grade of an additional 0.5 for completion of the course.

Students should know that many colleges examine a student's transcript and re-calculate the student's GPA without the additional weighting for admissions purposes. Colleges doing these use procedures they feel are relevant and fair to all applicants.

8.   Is there a fee for the examinations?

For students enrolled in an AP class, there is no fee for the exam. However, FCPS will pay for a maximum of six (6) exams per student during their high school academic career. If students take additional exams or an exam for a course they are not registered for, they will be billed in the fall semester for the cost of those exams. 

Non-Woodson students who wish to take an AP exam at Woodson High School need to contact Student Services to determine if the exam is available. Registration for NON-FCPS students and FCPS students not enrolled in an AP class will be due by mid-October.  

Contact Student Services after October 1st for the proper registration form. 

9.   Where can I get more information?

The College Board website has information regarding the AP courses and exams.