Find out if your student should take the Advanced Placement or SAT II exams.

   Many high schools offer students the option of taking Advanced Placement (AP) tests, or the SAT II exam. These exams are similar in that they are often taken by advanced students, but differ in their formats and purposes.

Advanced Placement:

Q: What is Advanced Placement testing?

A: Advanced Placement, or AP, refers to exams that high school students can choose to take in the spring of their senior or junior year. Advanced placement testing is not related to the ACT, SAT, or SAT II. The purpose of the exams is to identify those high school students who can perform college level work in a specific area of study. Popular AP tests are those for Calculus, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, English, and various foreign languages because high schools that offer AP testing facilities often offer AP classes in these subjects to help students work at the level the tests require.


Q: Why should my student take Advanced Placement tests?

A: Students who score well enough on an AP test (score requirements vary per school) earn college credit in that particular subject area. This means that AP students can often "test out of" an introduction level class in the designated subject, and receive credit as though they had taken the class. This often translates into tuition dollars saved, and AP students who score well in several subject areas can sometimes graduate early.


Q: What are the disadvantages of AP testing?

A: Advanced Placement tests are challenging exams that merit significant preparation. Some students take the AP tests and do not score high enough to earn college credit. Because there is a fee of approximately $90 per subject, AP tests can be an expensive venture, especially if they do not result in college credit.

SAT II:

Q: What is the SAT II?

A:The SAT II is a recently developed variation of the SAT that uses a series of subject tests to further evaluate a student's academic performance in specific areas. The SAT II is primarily used by selective East Coast universities to determine if students are skilled enough in a specific area to be admitted to the university's individual schools. For example, if a particular student wanted to be admitted to a university's school of engineering, the university could use math and science SAT II scores to gage the student's likelihood of success in this field.


Q: How is the SAT II different from the SAT or ACT?

A: Because the SAT II is a recently developed exam, few institutions require it for admission and only juniors who are considering applying to very selective colleges usually take the SAT II. More students take the SAT, the standard college admission exam, which has only verbal and math sections instead of the more diverse subjects of the SAT II or ACT. The ACT is widely accepted by colleges and taken by students, especially in the Midwest. The ACT includes a section that tests science skills in addition to traditional math and verbal skills. Often, colleges that accept more than one kind of test, for example both SAT and ACT, will use an equivalency scale to determine the test on which the student performed the best, and accept the scores from that exam.

For More Information:

   Contact your student's guidance counselor to discuss the high school's involvement with SAT II and AP testing. Your son or daughter's high school guidance office should also be able to provide detailed information on either of the exams to help you and your student decide if either test is appropriate for your child.

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