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Advanced Placement Program

The Advanced Placement program allows students to earn college credit while still in high school. AP tests are designed to evaluate the achievement of high school students who have successfully completed coursework that is essentially the same as that of an introductory-level college course.

Are AP Courses and AP Tests Right For Me?

For some students, taking AP-level courses in the last year or two of high school might seem like a foregone conclusion; for others, it’s something to be considered. In the end, many students, especially in a competitive environment like New York, do end up taking one or several Advanced Placement exams.

There are a number of reasons the AP Program is so appealing, and the first one is right there in the name: Advanced Placement. If you score well enough on the AP exam, you can earn college credits before you even get to campus. Colleges differ in terms of what score qualifies, but most four year colleges (about 90%) offer placement and/or credit for a qualifying score. With credits under your belt, you might be able to place into a higher-level class immediately, or you might use the space in your course schedule to explore new interests, since you’ve already fulfilled one of the school’s requirements. To search for credit and placement policies at a variety of institutions, go to the College Board Web site’s AP Credit Policy Info online search tool at

A second reason students take AP exams has to do with college admissions. In today’s extremely competitive environment, anything that helps you stand out from the pack is valuable, and taking AP courses (and scoring well on AP exams) can certainly give you an edge. Some colleges (about a third of four-year colleges in the U.S.) also use AP experience to help determine scholarships.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, taking AP courses and preparing for AP exams really does help prepare you for the kind of work you’ll be expected to do in college, and the kind of class experiences you’ll have. You’ll develop the study habits, time management skills, and the ability to write persuasively that you’ll need in college courses (one of the most useful skills you can have in college, and in life). Above all, the AP program allows you to explore your interests in great depth, and hopefully find subjects you’ll want to pursue in college.

Preparing for AP Exams—the CATES approach to AP Test Prep

Once you have decided if, and which AP courses will best allow you explore your interests (and which AP Exams will let you show off your skills), it’s time to tackle AP test prep. Each AP Exam differs in terms of content, clearly, but also in terms of traps, tricks, and best approaches. At CATES, we know these tests inside and out, and can help put you in the best possible position on test day.

All of our AP tutoring and test prep programs begin with a diagnostic test to assess the immediate and long-term content and strategy needs. From there, we devise a customized study plan – complete with specifically chosen test prep materials geared towards the your individual needs – and teach you the content and strategies to maximize your score.

Once you posses a solid foundation in the material and strategy, your CATES tutor will teach you the ins and outs of the particular exam you’re facing, including how to handle specific question types, how to manage time throughout the test, and the best ways to overcome your particular test-taking challenges in order to reach your target score. In the weeks leading up to the test, you’ll come in for mock tests at the CATES offices, which help you get used to the test, and give you and your tutor information about how you’re progressing and what to work on next.

Maybe you need to practice organizing your thoughts for the World History Free Response questions, or maybe you need a refresher on polynomial approximations and series—either way, our experts at CATES are here to help.

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