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1. Don’t Discount Your AP/IB Exams

Besides being used for college admissions, AP and IB scores can also be used to exempt yourself from some introductory college courses. Not a fan of chemistry? Use your AP or IB Chemistry score to skip your college’s Chemistry 101 class and jump to Chemistry 102.

Keep in mind that different colleges have different score cut-offs and only accept certain exams for college credit. For example, UC Berkeley accepts scores of 3 or higher for AP US History and AP US Government and Politics, among others. On the other hand, Harvard only accepts AP scores of 5 when granting college credit.

Even if your dream school doesn’t accept AP/IB scores from the classes you are taking, colleges still use these scores to contextualize the rigor of your high school curriculum. For example, if you get an ‘A’ in a class and a 5 on the corresponding AP exam, admissions officers will assume that the class prepared you well for the exam. But if you receive an ‘A’ in a class and get a 3 on the corresponding AP exam, admissions officers will question the rigor of the class.

2. Dual Enrollment

Some high schools offer dual enrollment classes – which allow for students to enroll in college classes while in high school.

These dual enrollment classes may come in the form of taking high school classes that are approved for dual enrollment by a higher education institution. An example of this structure can be found in some Arizona high schools’ dual enrollment program with Rio Salado College. Singapore American School’s partnership with Syracuse University through their Project Advance program also falls under this category.

Other high schools offer dual enrollment classes in which the student attends classes at a higher education institution. Some California high school students have this option where they take classes at their local community college.

3. Taking Summer Classes

If you don’t know how to spend your summer, you can always make it eventful by taking summer classes at universities. While some universities only offer summer classes for the purpose of exploring a topic of interest, others offer them as an opportunity garner college credit.

An example of a credit-granting summer program is Harvard’s Secondary School Program – where students can take courses ranging from Mathematical Modeling to Elementary Uyghur.

What’s Next?

As you can see, there are several ways to gain college credits while in high school. But is this something you should pursue in high school? After all, not every college accepts these credits and differences in curriculum can leave you feeling overwhelmed if you use these credits to place into advanced courses during your first year of college.

The answer varies from person to person. Are you the kind of person who hates being forced to take certain subjects in order to graduate and would prefer to have the option of skipping certain classes, or do you enjoy taking courses in a variety of subjects? Would you rather spend your summers taking a well-deserved break or spend it getting a head start by doing summer courses that’ll get you college credit?

If you’re still confused about whether these college credit pathways are right for you, Prep Zone has you covered! With experience in getting into some of the world’s most prestigious universities, consultants at Prep Zone have the answers to these questions. Schedule a free consultation by filling the following form or call +65 6812 9999.


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Jeremy O

Author Jeremy O

Jeremy is an intern with Prep Zone and is a senior at Emory University majoring in Economics, Math, and English. He has had two years of experience in college admissions consulting - helping candidates gain admission to schools such as Princeton, NYU Stern, UCLA, and Harvey Mudd.

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