Undergraduate Admission Blog

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March 27, 2014

STUDENT BLOG: Benefits of Taking the AP/IB Test: A Student’s Perspective


It’s that time of year.

The college decisions are coming in; USC’s come out this week! You may have already been accepted by a few, knowing your future is secure and yes you are going to college! Congratulations! Still, what many of my high school senior friends forget is that getting in is not the end of the story. One of the many things still left to do is taking and passing your AP and IB exams.

          Some of you may be thinking, “Seriously, it’s senior year, the last thing I want to do is take another exam.” From my own personal experience and knowledge of USC course curriculum, an AP test that takes a few hours can save you a semester of heartache.

          As mentioned in my previous blog, I came to USC as an Undecided student. I had no idea what I wanted to do but my scores on my AP exams gave me the opportunity to explore a variety of fields of study without using up too many units. I did not have to take a General Education class in category 1 because of AP European History, which allowed me to take Introduction to Digital Photography instead. I had been interested in photography since high school but was never able to take a class until freshman year. My AP score allowed me to take this class and not fall behind on graduation requirements.

          I came to USC also interested in studying psychology and business. With my scores on both AP Psychology and AP Calculus AB, I was able to substitute those scores for the lower division classes Psychology 100 and Math 118 respectively. I moved to upper division courses like Abnormal Psychology and Microeconomics for Business instead of the lower division prerequisites. Instead of sitting in prerequisite classes about material I had already learned, my AP scores allowed me to jump into what interested me. I realized business wasn’t for me but I loved psychology and continued to take more of those classes.

          Even if you absolutely know what you want to study, I still recommend you take the AP exams. You may stumble upon another field of study you will want to explore. Taking that one AP test could save you a semester of prerequisites and allow you to progress to upper division courses. At the very least, every AP score with a four or five and IB score of at least a five will be an elective class. Elective classes are anything not included in your major. These classes are required in order to graduate and their accumulation can allow you to pursue a double degree, like a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science, or graduate early.

          There are only upsides to taking the AP exams. The average college student changes their major 2.5 times. AP/IB scores provide the flexibility for this to happen and still graduate on time. You can get out of lower division classes to explore your other academic interests sooner, or at the very least be waived out of a General Education class. With that said, good luck on your AP exams and be sure to check your mailboxes after March 26 for your admission decision from USC!

-Katherine Grabar ’15


  1. phen375 says:

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  2. Barbara says:

    Thank you for this VERY valuable and VERY quotable information. Working at the high school, we hear every day from the students that they choose not to take the AP Test cause it will do nothing for them. TAA DAA! Here is your blog full of the PERFECT information straight from an actual student who benefited. (My daughter went to USC and had the same benefits as you! She was able to stay undeclared for the first year and have a lot of fun experiencing more electives than her Kinesiology-declared major counterparts!)

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