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Articles / Preparing for College / Taking AP Exams Your School Doesn’t Offer

Taking AP Exams Your School Doesn’t Offer

Rob Franek
Written by Rob Franek | May 8, 2019
Taking AP Exams Your School Doesn’t Offer

Choosing which AP courses to take can be a daunting task. What will look best on a college application? What will help you score college credit now, saving you time and money later? But most importantly, what will allow you to explore the topics you're passionate about? That's the most crucial consideration you should make when choosing which courses to put on your schedule.

The list of courses offered by the College Board is extensive; however, sometimes an AP course may catch your eye only for you to find out your school doesn't offer it. Does that mean you're just out of luck? Not quite! You still have options. Here are two situations in which you might have to look elsewhere for a particular exam, and some advice on how to navigate the test.

My School Doesn't Offer AP Music Theory (or Studio Art or Latin…)

If your school doesn't offer a particular course, it may just mean that your administrators don't think enough students would enroll. But even if your school doesn't formally offer a particular AP course, arrangements can still be made for you to take the test. First, identify your AP coordinator (you may have to ask your high school advisor to point you in the right direction), and then work with him or her to secure a spot during a test administration.

Since you'll be sitting for a test that others won't have signed up for, you may likely take the test alone in a room with a proctor rather than with a group of classmates. Other than that, the overall experience will be the same. (Note, however, that the prep you'll have to undergo may look slightly different — read on to find out why.)

My School Doesn't Offer any AP Courses (or, I'm Homeschooled)

A similar situation (although one that's slightly trickier) is the possibility of being enrolled in a school that doesn't offer AP courses at all — this can also include students who are homeschooled. As with the previous scenario, you'll need to start early to ensure you can take the exams you want. That means tracking down a nearby AP coordinator who's willing to host you for any exams that hold your interest.

If you know of a nearby school that offers AP exams, you can contact that school directly and see if they would be willing to let you sit an exam at their school. If you're unsure of any schools nearby that offer AP exams, you can contact AP Services for Students to get a list of nearby coordinators.

Prepping for An Exam Without A Course

Once you're enrolled in the exam, you'll want to hit the ground running with your exam prep. Things will work a little differently since you'll be taking the exam without the supporting course in which you'd normally cover the material. But don't worry — you still have plenty of resources available to you. There are online courses that will include what you would have learned in an in-person AP course. Alternatively, you may be able to find a teacher at your school (or one nearby) who can help you with the content you're missing from not taking a course.

Finally, know that the AP Exam is a standardized test like the SAT or ACT. The material you learn in the class (or class alternative) is helpful, but it's not everything that you need to excel in the course. Start by taking a practice test in your selected AP Exam. Then, turn to The Princeton Review's line of options available to help you beat the test: from books to courses, we've got your back in maximizing your chances at earning a top score.


AP Courses

Written by

Rob Franek

Rob Franek

College Admissions and Test Prep Expert

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