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Dublin High School AP (Advanced Placement) Program

What is an Advanced Placement Program (better known as AP)?  “Advanced Placement Program” is a registered trademark of the College Board (the College Board is a non-profit association founded in 1900 comprised of over 5,700 school, colleges, universities and other educational organizations). Dublin High School’s AP (Advanced Placement) results are available here.

High schools offering College Board Advanced Placement Programs (such as Dublin High School) provide students with the opportunity to take college-level courses during high school.  The Course Descriptions of Advanced Placement courses are defined by the College Board and are standardized – as are the Advanced Placement (AP) exams.  High schools offering an Advanced Placement Program are subject to AP Course Audits to ensure consistency of subject matter from school to school (“The subject-specific AP Course Audit specifies the curricular and resource requirements that must be met in order to receive authorization to use the ‘AP’ designation for a course.”).  Offering an Advanced Placement (AP) Program is a financial investment for school boards, requiring additional teacher training and materials.

Students are encouraged to work closely with their high school counselors to map out a multi-year plan that includes advanced courses, athletics and/or performing & visual arts, extracurricular clubs and community service to build a portfolio of experiences for college acceptance.  Many students are attracted to Advanced Placement courses because of the GPA boost (Advanced Placement courses can provide a 1.o GPA boost for equivalent grades C or above).  This is how students are able to achieve a GPA above “4”.  While it varies from college to college, Advanced Placement (AP) courses can result in college credit.

Most important, taking an Advanced Placement (AP) class provides a more rigorous, rich and thorough examination of the subject matter and a taste of college-level work.  Most colleges and universities take into account the level of difficulty of the courses taken by applicants – and the most competitive colleges prefer students who push themselves to take advanced classes.

It is possible for students to take AP exams without having taken an approved AP course (this is most common in schools that do not offer an Advanced Placement Program, a specific AP course or for home schooled students).  Students in this situation will need to work with their high school counselor or home school lead to pursue an independent study program suitable to prepare him/her for the AP exam.

Dublin High School Seniors on Advanced Placement (AP) Courses

For middle and high school students concerned that Advanced Placement (AP) courses will turn school into an academic-only experience, take a moment to hear two motivated and multi-faceted Dublin High School Class of 2010 seniors talk about how Advanced Placement (AP) courses have enriched their high school experience – how AP courses have helped lead to admission into Stanford and UC Berkeley – how AP courses have led to majors such as electrical engineering, renewable energy engineering and biological science.

What Advanced Placement courses did the Class of 2010 find the most difficult?  AP Physics and AP Calculus were popular answers along with AP Chemistry and AP European History.  And what were the favorite courses among these Class of 2010 seniors?  Many of the same AP courses – hard doesn’t always mean “not fun”.  Among the AP favorites were AP Chemistry, AP Statistics and AP English Language and Composition.

The message from the Class of 2010 to their peers is this – challenge yourself and take advantage of the opportunities offered by Dublin High School (both academic and non-academic).

Dublin High School’s Advanced Placement (AP) Program

Dublin High School Counselor and Advanced Placement (AP) Coordinator Caroline Rubio provides an overview of Dublin High School’s Advanced Placement (AP) Program in a presentation to the Dublin Unified School District (DUSD):

Dublin High School offers 23 Advanced Placement (AP), Advanced and Honors courses for Dublin students (more information available here).

Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB)?

Some schools offer International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.  Like Advanced Placement (AP), IB is a registered trademark of a non-profit organization with a set curriculum and standardized courses / exams.  International Baccalaureate (IB) programs are “designed through an international cooperative effort and is based in Geneva, Switzerland”.  According to the U.S. Department of State “AP courses are accepted at virtually all U.S. colleges and universities, while the IB program has more limited acceptance within the U.S.”  Establishing an International Baccalaureate (IB) program is a more significant investment and takes longer vs. an Advanced Placement (AP) program – and as a result there are significantly fewer schools in the U.S. currently offering IB programs.

In the Tri-Valley, every public high school (excepting continuation schools) offers an Advanced Placement Program.  Only Quarry Lane School (a private K-12 school located near Dublin Ranch) currently offers an International Baccalaureate program as well as Advanced Placement courses.

Advanced Placement (AP) Exams and Awards

In addition to receiving a traditional grade that counts towards an overall GPA, students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses are also expected to take Advanced Placement (AP) exams.  A fee is required to take an AP exam (the fee is significantly reduced for low income students).  AP exams are a combination of multiple choice and written responses and, like the SAT (also created by the College Board), have many self-help books and test prep courses available.  Advanced Placement (AP) exams are not graded on an A-F scale, but rather on a 5-point scale, with 3 being a minimum bar for most competitive colleges (and 4s / 5s usually providing an advantage in college acceptance):

  • 5 Extremely well qualified
  • 4 Well qualified
  • 3 Qualified
  • 2 Possibly qualified
  • 1 No recommendation (No recommendation to receive college credit or advanced placement)

The College Board offers a wide range of non-monetary AP Scholar Awards based on the number of AP classes taken and exam results – from an AP Scholar (three exams or more taken each with a score of 3 or higher) to a National AP Scholar (for students in the US “who receive an average score of at least 4 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams”).  Full details are available here.  Dublin High School had 50 students achieving an AP Scholar Award or above (including one National AP Scholar) in 2008-9, as per the Dublin High School Advanced Placement Overview video included above.

Advanced Placement (AP) – The Bottom Line

According to College Board-sponsored research, Advanced Placement (AP) students are “more likely to graduate from college in four years” and have an advantage when qualifying for scholarships because “31 percent of colleges and universities look at AP experience when determining scholarships” (full research available here). offers six reasons for why to consider taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

The most important steps to take when deciding if Advanced Placement (AP) courses are right for you or your child are to schedule time to meet with your high school guidance counselor to build a college preparation plan and to talk to students who have successfully completed Advanced Placement (AP) courses.


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