What can my AP do for me? AP Credits and Placement Issues

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If you took some Advanced Placement (AP) tests in high school, pursued an International Baccalaureate (IB) program, or sat for British A-level exams, you may be wondering how we take AP into account at Princeton, and how your AP credits can and cannot make a difference for you.

AP can be used:

  • to fulfill the foreign language requirement;
  • to place you into a higher-level course;
  • (if you are in the B.S.E. program) to fulfill general requirements in chemistry, math, and physics; (if you become an ECO major) to fulfill your department’s statistics requirement.
  • to qualify you for a semester or a full year of Advanced Standing, so that you could graduate with seven or six semesters of study.

AP cannot be used:

  • to fulfill the Writing requirement;
  • to make up course deficiencies;
  • to fulfill any distribution requirement;
  • to reduce your course load.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What if you have met the minimum score (from an AP, IB [higher level], or A-Level exam or an SAT Subject Test) in French, German, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Latin, or Spanish?

  • Then you have already fulfilled Princeton’s foreign language requirement. You will not be required to take any foreign language course during your time at Princeton – although we certainly encourage you to think about pursuing your study of that language at a higher level (and some majors – not just language departments, but also the Woodrow Wilson School program – do require this), or starting to study a new language.

2. What is an appropriate AP score in a variety of other subjects – Economics, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics that will let you start your study in that discipline at a higher level?

  • In most cases, you’ll need a score of 5 on the AP, grade of A on A-Ls, or 7 on IB. See this table for complete details. Those of you with Math AP credit may find it useful to consult the Math department’s website.

3. As a B.S.E. student, you have to meet specific requirements in chemistry, math, and physics, so what can AP credit be used to satisfy?

  • If you have earned an AP credit in chemistry, for example, you will not be required to take CHM 201 or CHM 207. (For information about the use of AP credit in the B.S.E. program, see the advanced placement and advanced standing section of the B.S.E. FAQ.) 
  • In the A.B. program, if you have a score of 5 on the AP Statistics exam and are thinking about majoring in Economics, you will want to know that, while Princeton doesn’t award any AP credit for your Statistics score, the ECO Department does accept it as fulfilling the departmental statistics prerequisite – so you won’t have to take ECO 202. Other A.B. Departments may or may not allow you to use AP credit to satisfy departmental prerequisites, and it is best to discuss with your faculty adviser the specific requirements for the departments you are considering. 

4. What if you have a significant number of AP units?

  • You may be eligible for advanced standing, meaning that you could graduate from Princeton with seven or six semesters of study.
  • Should you be interested in doing this, you will need to meet with your Director of Studies sometime in December (for a full year of Advanced Standing) or March (for a single semester of Advanced Standing) to discuss your plans.


  • Since we use your AP/IB/A-level scores to help us place you into courses at the most appropriate level, it’s very important that we have your scores early; you should be sure to have the College Board or IB program send all of your AP scores to Princeton in advance of your arrival. (I emphasize “all” because sometimes students have their senior-year scores sent, but forget that they hadn’t previously arranged to have their sophomore- or junior-year scores sent, too.) But what if, for some reason, some or all of your scores are still missing come September? Just be sure to tell your faculty adviser about it! They will help ensure you are enrolled in the correct-level course, then you should arrange to have your missing score(s) sent to Princeton immediately.

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Jaclyn Schwalm
Director of Studies, Whitman College
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