Advanced Placement®

What is Advanced Placement (AP)?

Advanced Placement® (AP®) programs offer high school students in the U.S. and Canada the opportunity to study college-level curricula and earn college credits if they achieve high scores on AP exams. 

The Benefits of AP Courses

Getting  a preview of college-level coursework can be both motivating and soothe anxieties about what they can expect after graduating from high school. Equal Opportunity Schools, a nonprofit education consortium in Seattle, reports key impacts: 

  • Students from all races and levels of income are 10-20 percent more likely to complete college if they have ever taken an AP course, regardless of whether or not they took or passed an exam.
  • Students who have taken and passed an exam are 26-34 percent more likely to graduate than their non-AP taking counterparts.
  • Students who have taken AP are 10 percent more likely to complete high school and at least 5-9 percent more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree than their peers.
  • Students who took AP/IB earn 5-8 more college credits and earn college GPA’s 0.15 points higher than their peers.

Providing Equal Access to Advanced Placement

While the most recent College Board data shows that the number of AP students nationwide doubled from 2004 to 2014, equal access to these critical courses for college-bound youth is a problem. A recent report from the Carsey School of Public Policy found that despite the push for college and career readiness from educators and policy makers, nearly half of rural school districts have no secondary students enrolled in AP courses programs. 

Online AP Courses Bridge Inequality Gap

Apex Learning AP courses are enabling districts nationwide to offer equal access to AP courses and support all students in achieving their personal best on critical exams that can make or break a college application. 

As the Carsey report points out, virtual AP courses are only effective if students are engaged. This requires a student-centered virtual learning environment that meets students at their level of learning and provides scaffolding that supports them in achieving their personal best.

"Apex Learning has been instrumental in our mission to give all Iowa students access to high-quality, Advanced Placement coursework. Because of our work with Apex Learning we have been able to reach thousands of students in ways that will impact the course of their academic path in high school and beyond."


Kate Degner, Ph.D.

Administrator for STEM Initiatives, Belin-Blank Center
Iowa Online AP Academy, IA