St. Michael's High School

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Academics » Advanced Placement Program

Advanced Placement Program

Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition from high school to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success, including the Advanced Placement (AP) Program.

What are the benefits of taking AP classes?

There are several, but here are a few reasons:

  • College Prep: AP classes are often as challenging as introductory college courses. Nationwide, AP classes usually cover more material than regular high school classes and require an immense amount of independent work, research, and analysis. Enduring and succeeding in AP classes at St. Michael’s gives students a strong dose of college-level curriculum and eases the transition from high school senior to first-year college student in a way that is difficult to replicate in any other academic setting. However the case, many non-AP classes at St. Michael's are just as challenging and difficult as AP classes. 
  • Distinguish Yourself: AP classes show college admissions officers that you’re ready for college-level work and have already demonstrated that you are up for the challenge. Ever heard of the term, “strength of schedule?” In college athletics it’s used as a term to determine how strong the teams are on a specific school’s schedule. The harder the schedule, the more credibility is given to a team’s success (or failure). Admissions Counselors consistently talk about how AP classes contribute to a student’s “academic strength of schedule” and are very revealing about a student’s ambition and preparedness for college academic rigor. Taking the class isn’t good enough, however. Doing well and sitting for the exam (and doing well on the exam) are also important distinguishing factors.
  • Get College Credit. Every college has its own policy about whether they accept AP scores or not. Bottom line, most do, but the student has to be investigative about which schools take what scores and in what subjects. For example, while one school may allow a student to skip a pre-requisite for a student receiving a 4, another school may give the student 3 college credits for scoring a 4 on the same test. Why does that matter? If a college student opts to take a BA or BS program at a college which requires the student to complete 128 credits, the student must take an average of 16 credits/ semester to graduate (128/8=16) in 8 semesters (or 4 years). A student that enters college with 6 or 9 AP credits under their belt immediately kicks their college graduation requirement down to say, 119 (128 credits to graduate – 9 AP credits = 119 needed to graduate). 119/ 8 semesters means the student only needs to take 14.8 credits/ semester to graduate, which gives the student flexibility to take a lighter course load and still graduate in 8 semesters, pick up a second major and still graduate in 8 semesters, or possibly graduate early in 7 semesters (if the student really pushes), saving an entire semester of college tuition and fees. You get the picture.  
  • It’s Time To Shine. By junior or senior year, many students have a pretty good idea of what subjects they thrive in and furthermore, which ones they really enjoy. Students often say, “I’m a math and science guy” or “I really enjoy my writing class and want to be a better writer.” AP curriculum gives students a chance to study not only what they love, but what they are good at studying. There are 38 AP subjects to choose from, ranging from Japanese to Computer Science, Chemistry, or AP Literature. 


How are AP tests scored?

AP exam scores are reported on a scale of 1 – 5. Many colleges and universities grant credit and placement for scores of 3, 4, or 5 with a score of 3 being “qualified”, 4 being “well qualified”, and 5 being “extremely well qualified”.  Basically, a 3 means you passed the exam.  4’s and 5’s, on most occasions, turn into college credit, depending on the college or university.

St. Michael’s is pleased to report that its five-year average percentage of AP students with scores of 3+ is 73%. Comparatively, New Mexico’s five-year average is 46% and the national average is 61%.

How many AP classes does St. Michael’s offer?

Eight (8). Two (2) in math, two (2) in science, two (2) in history, and two (2) in English. The listing is to the right of this page in the side-bar.  

Should my student take all 8 AP classes?

No. While AP classes are a good option for strong academic students, we do not believe students should take an excessively heavy load at the expense of having a good, well rounded, high school experience. Non AP classes at St. Michael’s are often times just as difficult and challenging as AP classes. A very strong student can handle 4-5 AP classes total, throughout their entire high school career (one, maybe two per year starting in the student’s sophomore year).  In no way has a student “failed” the program by not taking every offering. Do not be falsely persuaded by schools with overly expansive AP offerings. While it’s nice to have options, a student can only take so many AP classes and expect to do well in them. It is our philosophy at St. Michael’s that simply being in the course is not good enough. Doing well in the class by achieving an A or B and sitting for the exam and scoring a 4 or 5 are much more important outcomes in the AP program than simply saying you took a bunch of AP classes and did, “ok” in them, and then chose not to sit for the exam.

Is taking the AP Exam required?

Nationwide, no. At St. Michael's, yes. Students who take AP classes must take the AP exam at the end of the third trimester. Parents’ accounts will be charged for the AP exams that their students are enrolled in. Financial aid is available through the business office for families who cannot afford to pay for the AP exam fees. 


In order to qualify for Honors, Pre-AP, or AP courses at St. Michael's High School, a student must have a grade of A or B in the prerequisite Honors, Pre-AP, or AP course, or an A in the prerequisite regular course. A student who does not meet these requirements must have a teacher recommendation before going into an Honors, Pre-AP or AP class. 



St. Michael's Offers the Following AP Courses on the St. Michael's campus


Calculus AB

Calculus BC

English Language & Composition

English Literature & Composition

US World History

World History

AP Environmental Science
AP Physics 1: Algebra Based