USA Curriculum Explained

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Advanced Placement (AP)


The Advanced Placement (AP) refers to university courses offered by the College Board for senior high school. It is a pre-university course. High school students can select those courses and earn university credits upon taken the exams and successfully complete the course. Normally, it costs thousands of dollars to take a college course, but it only costs less than $100 to take the AP exam. Therefore, taking the AP course can not only show students' ability, but also save money

AP courses offer 38 subjects in 22 categories. The program is widely offered in over 15000 high schools around the United States. It enables high school students to get in touch with university courses in advance.

Main categories and subjects include:


Category I: Mathematics and Computer Science (Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Statistics, Computer Science A, Principles of Computer Science)

Category II: Science (Physics C - Electromagnetics, Physics C – Mechanical, Physics 1, Physics 2, Chemistry, Biology and Environmental Science) 

Category III: World Languages (Chinese Language and Culture, French Language and Culture, German Language and Culture, Japanese Language and Culture, Latin, Spanish Language and Culture, Spanish Literature)

Category IV: English (English Language and Writing, English Literature and Writing)

Category V: History and Social Sciences (Comparative Government and Politics, European History, Human Geography, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Psychology, American Government and Politics, American History, World History)

Category VI: Art (Music History, Art History, Studio Art - Painting, Studio Art - 2D Design, Studio Art - 3D Design)

AP curriculum is in line with the core basic curriculum of University, so it is equivalent to university level, and AP is a curriculum system designed by professors and senior high school expert teachers from well-known universities in the United States and internationally. Different from other university preparatory courses and advanced courses, university professors are also involved in the marking of standardized AP examination papers that students will participate at the end of the AP program to check whether students have grasped necessary knowledge and abilities for university.

AP Examination:


The registration for AP exam is in March every year, exam takes place in May, and the report card can be received before the end of June.

AP test centers: College Board cooperates with IECC, China's largest educational examination institution, to hold AP test at designated test centers in China, mainly in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Hefei, Nanchang, Zhengzhou, Chengdu, Changsha, Wuhan, Xi'an, Lanzhou, Fuzhou, Harbin, Changchun, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Jinan, Qingdao, Nanjing, Suzhou, Changzhou, Jiangyin, covering 19 provinces and 25 cities.

AP tests are scored on a 1 to 5 scale. Candidates may receive 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 points, which is equivalent to:

5 points: Extremely well qualified

4 points: Well qualified

3 points: Qualified

2 points: Possibly qualified

1 point: No recommendation

In General, scores of 3 or above can be exchanged for credits in universities, but there are many special circumstances. Some top-class universities may only accept scores of 4 or above and some universities do not accept AP results at all.

At present, 4000 universities in more than 60 countries recognize AP results as their admission reference standard, and confirmed that credits can be given to the candidates who have taken the exam. World-famous universities such Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College are among those that accept AP.

According to the AP global conference, the pass rate for AP program in China is 81%, higher than the world average pass rate of 58%. This shows that Chinese candidates maintain a greater advantage in the AP exam.