As you step out of the world of high school and into your next alma mater, you surely have some questions about this “AP” you keep hearing about. What is it? Is it for me? How will my college handle it? Here’s what you need to know:

What is AP?

The Advanced Placement Program was started in 1900 by the College Board, a non-profit education advocacy association, working with twelve colleges to establish standardized entrance examination and provide a method of pointing out excelling students who were serious about preparing for higher education. They have since been working in tandem with the American Council on Education (ACE) and thousands of colleges to shape an exam system that continues to incentivize students to excel and even translates into credit for college courses.

Credit and Placement for AP Tests Scores

The College Board and ACE work closely with colleges and universities to establish their recommendations for recognizing AP test scores. Their current policy is for schools to only give credit for an AP score of 3 or higher, and they provide a table of semester hours and the number of semesters they believe correspond with specific scores. The actual credits or advanced placement a school will grant for a score will ultimately depend on the policy of that specific school, but their policy is heavily informed by the recommendations of the College Board and ACE. So, if you want to know if the English Department at, say, Kent State University will let you waive their first level Composition class with a grade of 4 on the English Language and Composition AP test, you would need to look at their department’s policy online or speak with an advisor.

How do Colleges get my AP Score?

Colleges already have systems in place that let them easily look up students’ AP scores. There is almost always a section of the enrollment forms where you can mention your AP exams. As you work with your academic advisor, be sure to make note of your AP scores if it has not already been brought up. It is now possible for you to look up your own scores online.

Is It Worth It?

AP exams are a great way to not only show colleges and universities how dedicated you are to education, but they will easily save you money. It is very common for higher education schools to give you the option of taking a class you tested out of or moving on to the next level. If you feel like you could still use some review on the subject, go ahead and take the class. But if you feel comfortable with the topic and wish to get as many classes out of the way as you can, your parents will thank you for skimming down your class load and fattening their wallet. AP courses and exams can be grueling and feel like a true test of your academic chops, but if you hang in the program and take that test, they can provide you much future relief.

See also: How Can I Afford College? – Best Value Schools