What is AP Scholar and How to Qualify for It?

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Are you a prospective AP student wondering what it takes to earn the prestigious AP scholar award? Here’s an article that explains everything you should know about the AP scholar award.

Often, students think that the term “AP scholar” refers to anyone who takes studying for the AP exams seriously. But there’s more to it. It is an award program offered by the college board. In this article, we’ll review the award and how to qualify for it. We’ll also highlight some tips to help you prepare better. Let’s go!

What is AP Scholar?What is AP Scholar?

Broadly speaking, an AP scholar is someone who has received an award from the College Board for excellent results in different AP exams. The college board offers AP scholar awards to select students for their outstanding performance in several AP exams.

There are different levels to the AP awards, and students qualify for the different levels based on how many AP exams they take and how many of these exams they score highly in. In addition to being a reward for outstanding academic performance, the AP scholar award is also an award for other works you completed during your time as an AP student.

The award is typically given one week or two after the release of AP scores, and eligibility is calculated using cumulative data instead of results from a single year.   Thus, it’s possible to work your way up the award instead of taking too many exams at once.

AP Scholar Awards Levels

It’s important to note that the AP scholars award is divided into levels. Most students aim for a particular level and put in the work required to get to that level. That said, here are the different levels for the AP awards.

Scholar: this award is typically given to students who score at least 3 in at least three AP exams.

  • Scholar with Honor: to be eligible for this award, students must average a minimum of 3.25 on their AP exams. They must also score a minimum of 3 in four or more exams.
  • Scholar with Distinction: to qualify for this award level, students must average at least 3.5 on all their AP exams. They must also score a minimum of 3 in at least five exams.
  • State Scholar: only one male and female from each state get this award annually. The students are selected based on their average scores in the AP exams. They must also average at least three on all their AP exams.
  • National Scholar: Students receiving this award are selected from students who average a minimum of 4 in all their AP exams. This means they must score a minimum of 4 in at least eight exams.
  • DoDEA Scholar: like the state scholar award, only one male and one female qualify for this award annually. However, the recipient must already be a student of the Department of Defense Education Activity schools. The award typically goes to the student with the highest average score on most AP exams.
  • International Scholar: again, only one male and one female get this award annually. The said students must be in a school outside the US or Canada and must have the highest average score on the highest number of AP exams.
  • Seminar and Research Certificate: to get this award, students must score a minimum of 3 in AP Research and AP Seminar.

What are the Benefits of Being an AP Scholar?

What are the Benefits of Being an AP Scholar?

While no monetary rewards are involved in getting the AP scholar awards, there are a number of outstanding benefits.

  • You’ll get a certificate: every recipient would get a certificate to commemorate the honor. Add that to the appearance of the scholar designation on the AP scores reports to be sent to colleges, and you can tell it’s absolutely worth pursuing. These certificates can also serve as proof of your personal qualities when applying for college.
  • Boosts college application resume: Mentioning that you’re an AP scholar in your college applications and resumes show college admission officers that you’ve excelled in rigorous courses. This way, they’ll know your readiness to conquer any challenge (academically and otherwise).
  • Recognition and respect: There’s also the respect that comes with being recognized in your school and district for outstanding academic achievements. The college board typically sends a roster of award recipients to schools, teachers, and distribution education boards. These people do not just stop at being proud; they mainly recognize you before other students.

There’s also the case for the AP scholar award helping you to save on college tuition. After all, many colleges accept AP scores of 3 and above in exchange for college credits.

How to Become an AP scholar?

How to Become an AP scholar?

You’ve probably heard people talk about how difficult it is to become an AP scholar, but the good news is that it’s not impossible. The first thing you should know about achieving the AP scholar award is that you must register for the AP exams and dedicate enough time to practice. As in every other kind of exam, hard work is the key to success in the AP exam.

Scoring a minimum of 3 in every exam takes plenty of work. We typically advise students not to just aim for the minimum number for the scholar designation. Going for lower scores can get your average significantly down. It also limits your chances of reaching the score average required to become an AP scholar.

Also, please note that if you’re eager to meet a certain level before college application, you’ll have to postpone the requisite AP exams till the end of the year to qualify for the award in the subsequent years. But most exam experts will also advise you to reduce the amount of stress expounded on the AP scholar program.

The AP scholar awards selection involves two steps often used to determine final recipients.

  1. The first step involves calculating students’ average AP exam scores based on the number of exams taken.
  2. The second step involves checking which exam scores are relevant to the various AP scholar award levels. Students must meet the requirements for each award level to be considered for it.

Here, let’s talk more about other tips to help you become an AP scholar with honors.

Prioritize courses that correlate with your interest when signing up

One significant mistake we see students make too often is taking an AP exam just for the sake of it. But one step that can give you the edge during preparations is choosing exams that align with your strength and personal goals. For example, if you’re more interested in humanities, it’ll be easier to take AP English and History than AP Calculus.

Remember that some AP scholar awards require a certain minimum score on your exams across the board, so a weak score in even one exam can affect your chances.

Learn to self-study, especially if your school doesn’t offer the course

One good thing about the AP exam is that you don’t necessarily need to take AP courses to qualify for the exams. So, even if your school doesn’t offer a certain AP course, you can still register for and pass the exam. You just need to work harder during study times. Fortunately, there are many helpful resources online and offline that you can leverage to make self-study a tad easier.

Create a study plan for each exam

Often students fail to realize the need for effective study. The AP program comprises different exams, meaning you’ll need a different skill set for each exam. For example, US History requires a detailed understanding and ability to analyze certain texts. It also requires candidates to memorize dates and facts. So while creating your study plan, you must know what each exam requires and work towards them.

Stay healthy

Finally, you’ll need mental and physical strength to tackle the exams. Don’t get too consumed by studying that you forget to take care of yourself. Combining your schoolwork with AP exam preparations can easily become overwhelming. You must learn to balance these works with your schedule to get the best out of your study.

Is it Hard to Get an AP Scholar Award?

Is it Hard to Get an AP Scholar Award?

The simple, straightforward answer to this question is yes. The AP scholar award is not an easy award to come by. This can be seen in the percentage of students receiving the award annually. Although the percentage varies from year to year, it’s still typically around 10%. Remember, the AP scholar with distinction percentage also varies from state to state, so while one state may have more award recipients, another may not.

But, in the end, the question we often hear is whether an AP scholar award is worth the stress. The truth is that it is worth every stress, although we typically advise students to slow down on the stress trying to earn this distinction. Just focus on doing well in your AP classes, then make it a personal goal to score a minimum of 3 on the exam to qualify for the awards.

Wrapping Things Up: What is AP Scholar and How to Qualify for It?

Are AP awards important? Yes, they are. They’re a significant honor that can help you impress colleges. But it’s also important to remember that they are not everything in the grand scheme of things. There are so many accomplishments you can earn, so earning an AP award shouldn’t be a do-or-die affair. However, it’s essential to also put in enough effort to do well in the AP exams. The tips highlighted in this article would help you do well enough in your AP exams to earn an AP scholar award.

Remember, the first step to earning this award is knowing what qualifies you for each award level. However, if you’re still worried about your chances or preparation ability after getting all this information, you can always talk to a counselor. A counselor can help provide tailored solutions based on your unique needs. Never underestimate the need to begin preparations early. Early preparations help you detect incompetence on time and pursue them.

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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