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Advanced Placement and Homeschoolers

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By Beverly S. Krueger

What are advanced placement courses and tests, and how do homeschooled students participate? I’ve heard some say advanced placement requires teachers with specialized credentials, so it’s difficult to do at home. I disagree. I believe that whether a homeschooler can do well on advanced placement test has more to do with the homeschooled student than with anything else.

Advanced placement courses are designed to be more rigorous because they are meant to prepare a student to take an advanced placement test, which will grant them college credit at participating colleges and universities.  The College Board, the organization that offers the Advanced Placement Program®, states on their website that homeschooled students can participate through independent study. You have to make special arrangements to do so by contacting AP Services to find a school that will allow you to test with their students. (Please see the resource section accompanying this article for contact information.) The College Board AP website has additional information on the more than 30 courses and exams that are offered through the program. Tests are available in many different disciplines including math, science, social sciences, art, music, foreign language, and computer science.  Course descriptions, topic outlines, information about the specific exam, sample questions, and additional resources like lab manuals for the science courses are available. Unlike other AP subjects, Studio Art requires a portfolio rather than an exam. You’ll also find information on when tests are administered. The deadline for homeschooled students is March 15, 2010, so those interested in AP courses are looking at the 2011 testing dates.

There are plenty of resources from which to prepare an advanced placement course of study. You can begin by purchasing a test preparation book from publishers like Princeton Review, Barron’s, McGraw Hill, and Kaplan. Many of these books have the look inside feature that will allow you to review the table of contents and pages of the text to determine if the book is right for your needs. I particularly like the McGraw Hill 5 Steps to a 5 books. The most recent versions of these types of books usually publish sometime in the fall.

If you’re looking for advanced placement textbooks, some of the Wikipedia advanced placement subject articles contain lists of suggested textbooks. These are usually secular texts. If you’re looking for rigorous Christian textbooks in a given subject, ABeka is considered quite rigorous. You can also search the textbook section of Amazon for college level texts. Textbooks at Amazon

The Teaching Company provides video and audio presentations of college level lectures on many different subjects. I would use these as a supplement to focused reading. You will also want to have your student do a lot of practice in answering the type of essay questions found on the exams. Test prep books are good for help with this. Again, sample questions are available on the College Board AP website. APStudyNotes.org offers free advanced placement resources including sample essays.There are many good sites devoted to specific AP topics with plenty of free resources. You can find them using the appropriate keywords at Google.

However you choose to go about preparing your student for and advanced placement test, it is quite doable for the academically gifted student or even the student who has immersed himself with passion into a particular field of study. 2010 test fees were $86. If a student does well on an exam and is offered college credits because of his AP test score, the savings on college tuition can be substantial. Even at a public university rate of $200 per credit hour (a lowball figure in my opinion) the student will save $514 for a three hour class. The savings should give an added impetus to try advanced placement for those students who can commit to the studying required to do well.

Advanced Placement Resources

Test Preparation Resources

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