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What are Advanced Placement (AP) courses?

What are Advanced Placement (AP) courses?

There are so many aspects of our Pasadena campus that make it unique. For starters, it is located in the heart of Pasadena, within the always-sunny Los Angeles County. At this brand-new purpose built campus, students will have so many opportunities; they can ski or go to the beach, learn about fine arts or maths, play sports or join the robotics club, and so much more! There is something for everyone here in California.

While our activities are designed to suit every students’ needs, our academic curriculum is also built to ensure every student has the chance to learn about a subject they are passionate in.  One aspect of our Pasadena curriculum differs from those at our other two campuses in New York and Oxford: Advanced Placement (AP) courses. 

What are AP Courses?

Advanced Placement (AP) courses were created by the College Board, an US non-profit organization that connects high school students to colleges and universities, and assists in their preparation for higher education. Essentially, AP courses are college-level classes that you take while you are still completing your high school degree. The courses will follow the same schedule as your high school; the class(es) will be taken on site at your high school in line with your schedule and alongside your peers. These classes are designed to teach you harder course material that will build your academic experience while providing you with the comfort of a familiar environment.

At the end of the school year, AP students have the option to sit for that course’s AP exam. The exams are scored on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest grade you can earn. In order to earn full college credit for the course, a student must score at least a 3 or higher on the exam. Many colleges and universities vary requirements and recognize different courses, with some asking for a minimum of a 4 on a given exam. The exams cover an overview of all the material taught throughout the course of the year, just as a final college-level exam would at the end of a semester.

AP vs International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP)

There are an abundance of differences between the AP Program and the IBDP. However, In many ways, there are also a variety of similarities between the two. Here is a compare and contrast:


  • The AP program does not require students to complete a Creativity, Activity and Service Project or Extended Essay.
  • There are no class or extracurricular requirements for participation in the AP Program.
  • IBDP has externally graded coursework given throughout the entirety of the year, while most AP courses will only have one – at the end of the school year.
  • AP scores are graded by the US organization, College Board, while IBDP scores are graded by a group of educators from around the world at the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO).
  • IBDP courses go in-depth on a particular subject, while AP classes tend to be more fast-paced and encourage students to learn as much as possible in a given time.
  • Most students are first introduced to the IBDP program in Grade 11, while AP courses are offered Grades 9-12.


  • Both AP and IBDP contain the highest level of academics in their course materials.
  • Results from both AP and IBDP are recognized at most colleges and universities.
  • AP and IBDP are both rigorous courses that will prepare students for their academic careers beyond high school.
  • Both programs are offered abroad and allow students to take individual courses.

What are the advantages of taking AP classes?

There are a plethora of advantages to taking AP classes both while you are in high school and when you enter college.

While in high school, AP give you an academic edge. AP classes are taught at a higher level and give their students harder material. Therefore, college admissions counselors prefer admitting AP students because they are more well-prepared for higher education.

AP courses improve students’ development both academically and personally. Taking these classes will provide you with the time management and critical thinking skills that you will not only take with you to college or university, but also something you will use in your personal life and in the workforce.

After receiving your final test score, AP classes continue to help you as you progress along your academic career. Passing a class’s AP exam can help families save money on college courses. These classes typically equate to introductory classes at colleges and universities, and by completing them in high school, students have the opportunity to graduate from college early! It also means that students are able to take specialized classes in topics that interest them sooner than their peers who did not take any AP courses.

If you’re not interested in taking the exam at the end of the class, you don’t have to! Students that are only looking to challenge themselves during their time at high school and aren’t focused on college credits can still take the class without having to sit for the final exam.

Academics at EF Academy

Our faculty and staff are then happy to help guide students to their best-fitted academic pathway. With the variety of AP courses that will be offered at our Pasadena campus, every student will find a subject they love.