Online AP Courses: How to Choose and Succeed

Online AP Courses

Online AP Courses: How to Choose and Succeed

Published May 14, 2024 | Last Updated May 25th, 2024 at 10:57 am

Online AP Courses

Thousands of high school students take online Advanced Placement (AP) classes each year. These college-level courses offer deeper learning and the chance to earn college credits while studying from home or anywhere else. This guide covers how to find good online AP classes, the pros and cons, and tips for success.

What Are Online AP Courses?

Online AP courses are college-level courses that prepare high school students to take Advanced Placement exams for college credit. Students often enroll in online AP classes if their high school doesn’t offer them in person or if they prefer online. However, it’s essential to find accredited, high-quality courses.

Are Online AP Courses Worth the Effort?

Online AP courses can be worthwhile if they are good classes that fit the student’s needs. However, not all online AP courses are created equal. Thousands of online courses claim to prepare students for a specific AP exam. However, not all classes live up to these claims.

The good news is that there is a way to find out before you spend the money. You can look for specific criteria to help you distinguish the good from the bad. The other thing to remember is that online AP classes may have even more focus and discipline from students than in-school classes. Most online courses are self-paced, which can be great for motivated students but a real drawback for those who tend to procrastinate.

What to Look for in Online AP Classes

Look for these key factors when you compare online AP courses.

1. Is the online class accredited?

Accreditation is vital. If the class is not approved by the College Board in your state, then you have no guarantee that it will cover the material your student needs to pass the exam.

See our list of accredited courses below.

2. Is the teaching style engaging?

The next thing to consider is teaching style. Is the material presented in a way that is engaging, interesting, and clear? Does it fit the student’s specific learning needs? 

There are many learning styles, and no one is better than another. However, having the material match the student’s style will help them succeed.

3. Are teachers accessible, and do they give good feedback?

Teachers should be accessible, and students should get timely, useful feedback on their assignments and papers. Sitting for the exam when your child still hasn’t heard back on the work they submitted will not give them much confidence.

4. Is the workload bearable?

The workload should make sense for an AP exam. Students should understand how many hours per week the course will take.

5. Is the online interface easy to use?

The interface and tech support should both be easy to understand and accessible.

6. How well do students of the online class do on the AP exam?

Before you choose a course, find out how previous course participants have done on the AP exam.

7. Does the course get good reviews?

Look beyond the course’s website for testimonials and experiences from other families. You can often Google the name of the course with “reviews” to find information.

Best Online AP Course Platforms

Write FS and check each for course offerings

Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY)
Offerings: Online AP courses designed for gifted and advanced learners.
Eligibility: Open nationally and internationally to students who meet the advanced learning criteria.
Features: Rigorous courses with expert instructors tailored for students seeking challenging coursework.
Cost: Tuition can range from approximately $600 to over $2,500 per course, depending on the subject and course length.
Website: Johns Hopkins CTY AP Courses

FLVS (Florida Virtual School)
Offerings: Offers a wide range of AP courses.
Eligibility: Nationwide availability, though non-Florida residents may pay tuition.
Features: Offers flexibility with open enrollment dates and self-paced progress.
Cost: Florida students can take courses for free. Non-Florida residents need to check the latest
fees, as they are subject to change.
Website: FLVS AP Courses

Virtual High School (VHS Learning)
Offerings: Provides a broad selection of AP courses.
Eligibility: Open to students worldwide, making it highly accessible.
Features: Focuses on collaborative and interactive online learning environments.
Cost: Typically, courses cost around $450 for semester-long courses and $950 for full-year courses.
Website: VHS Learning

UC System Scout Program
Offerings: Backed by the University of California, offering a comprehensive range of AP courses designed to meet UC’s “a-g” requirements.
Eligibility: Primarily aimed at California students, particularly those who might not have access to all AP courses in their local schools. However, students from other states and countries can also enroll.
Features: UC Scout’s platform offers both “teacher-led” and “self-paced” course options, providing flexibility in learning. The program will help fulfill the University of California’s “a-g” subject requirements.
Cost: Courses are free for California public school students. Out-of-state and private school students can take courses for a fee.
Website: UC Scout AP Courses

Apex Learning
Offerings: Various AP courses, including core subjects and electives.
Eligibility: Available to students across the United States.
Features: Apex Learning focuses on a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning to accommodate different learning styles.
Cost: Single-semester courses cost $380, and full-year courses cost $700.
Website: Apex Learning AP Courses

Pennsylvania Homeschoolers AP Online
Offerings: Various AP courses.
Eligibility: Primarily targeted at homeschoolers but open to other students as well.
Features: Experienced teachers with deep knowledge of AP content.
Cost: Courses typically cost between $625 to $900.
Website: PA Homeschoolers AP Online

BYU Independent Study
Offerings: A selection of AP courses.
Eligibility: Available nationally and internationally, offering courses to anyone interested.
Features: Highly flexible, allowing students to start at any time and proceed at their own pace.
Cost: AP courses cost around $290 per half credit, so a full-year course costs about $580.
Website: BYU AP Courses

K12.com
Offerings: A variety of AP courses through online public and private schools.
Eligibility: Available nationally, though public school options may be limited to certain states due to charter school laws.
Features: Structured courses with scheduled classes and deadlines.
Cost: Prices can vary depending on whether the student is part of a state-funded public school program (often free) or enrolls privately (tuition-based)
Website: K12 Advanced Placement

The Keystone School
Offerings: Offers several AP courses that are NCAA-approved and beneficial for student-athletes.
Eligibility: Available nationally and internationally; suitable for students in various educational settings, including homeschool.
Features: Provides flexibility for students to enroll at any time and complete courses at their own pace.
Cost: Typically, about $399 per course.
Website: Keystone School AP Courses

ChemAdvantage
Offerings: ChemAdvantage offers an online AP Chemistry course that is rigorous and designed to be equivalent to introductory college and university chemistry courses.
Eligibility: Available to high school students who meet the prerequisites for AP Chemistry, typically having completed a year of high school chemistry and algebra.
Features: The course includes live weekly webinars, recorded lectures, and online labs using virtual lab software and traditional lab kits that students can use at home.
Cost: The course fee typically includes all required materials, such as textbooks and lab kits.
Website: ChemAdvantage AP Chemistry

Pros and Cons of Online Advanced Placement Courses

Online AP courses have pros and cons, so consider what best fits you and your situation. Pros include the flexibility of being remote, multiple course options, and autonomy. Cons include time management challenges, limited social interaction, and potential technical issues.

Here’s a more detailed look at the pros of taking online AP courses:

  • Flexibility and Convenience
    One of the most significant benefits of online AP courses is their flexibility. Students can access materials anytime and from any location, allowing them to fit learning into a busy schedule or manage school around personal commitments.
  • Wider Range of Course Options
    Online platforms often offer a broader array of AP courses than what might be available at a student’s local high school. This is particularly beneficial for students in rural or underserved areas.
  • Opportunity for Self-Discipline and Independence
    Studying online requires a higher degree of self-discipline and motivation. Students learn to manage their time and stay organized without the constant oversight of teachers, skills that are invaluable in college and beyond.

Here’s a deeper look at the cons of online AP courses:

  • Time Management Challenges
    The same flexibility that can be a boon to many can also be a barrier. Some students may struggle with time management, leading to stress and poor performance.
  • Limited Social Interaction
    Online courses typically offer less interaction with peers and instructors, which can affect learning and reduce the sense of community that helps motivate many students.
  • Technical Issues and Accessibility
    Access to reliable internet and a suitable computer is essential for online learning, which can be a significant hurdle for some students, potentially exacerbating educational inequities.

Tips for Succeeding in Online AP Courses

  • Create a dedicated study area that is quiet and free from distractions. This will help you focus and mimic a more structured classroom setting.
  • Develop a study schedule that includes regular breaks and adheres to a routine. This can help manage the workload and reduce the risk of burnout.
  • Take advantage of available resources such as tutors, forums, and online study groups. These can enhance understanding and provide motivational support.
  • Prepare for the AP exam with regular review sessions and practice exams, and utilize AP preparation books. Staying organized and beginning early can significantly impact your success.

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Other Articles You Might Like:

Is It Really Worth Taking AP Classes in High School?

Which Is Better? AP or Dual Enrollment?

AP Exam Registration and Schedule 

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