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Articles / Preparing for College / Can I Take an AP Exam Without the AP Class?

May 28, 2020

Can I Take an AP Exam Without the AP Class?

Question: I am currently in an accelerated/honors chemistry class with an A+ average. I had signed up for the AP version of the class at my school, but I changed my mind at the last minute because I got worried about the possibility of messing up my class rank and GPA. Would there be any way for me to prepare myself to take the AP exam in May even though I haven't had the class?

There’s a good chance that you will be able to succeed on the AP Chemistry exam even though you didn’t take the AP course. You need to talk to whomever teaches the AP chem class at your school and ask what sort of preparation you can do on your own to take that exam.


If this is the same individual who teachers your accelerated/honors class, he or she should know exactly where to direct your independent study and will probably encourage your efforts. Hopefully, any other teacher would do the same. However, you need to steel yourself for the possibility that some teachers may resent the fact that you avoided the tougher course and now want to try the test anyway. Nonetheless, it’s certainly an idea worth pursuing. In fact, you may find that there isn’t a lot of difference between the materials covered in your chem section and those studied by the AP students.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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