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MIT student blogger Jess K. '10

Passing Out by Jess K. '10

...of classes. Or in class. We'll see.

[Editor’s note in 2017: The Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming manages credit policies for incoming freshmen, and the policies are subject to change for each entering class. Please refer to this page for up-to-date information on AP and transfer credit.]

Remember when you were in kindergarten, and the first day of class your mother came with you and held your hand? Eventually she left, like when she stopped holding the bike and you rode it all by yourself (or fell down and cried like you didn’t see THAT one coming), but it’s still nice to have your security blanket there. So I became a legal adult a few months ago. Who says legal adults don’t need to feel secure sometimes?

(Also, all you did on the first day of kindergarten was color. Heck, all we did on the first day of high school was get that permission slip signed saying we understood that cheating is bad and to bring a certain type of binder with dividers for Homework, Tests, and Unnecessary Permission Slips. Today, we’re learning.)

Last week I met with my advisor and signed up for classes, which was interesting, since I nearly forgot that among all the crazy events and crazy amounts of free food, we’re actually here for school. I’m taking 8.01 (Physics), 5.111 (Principles of Chemical Science), possibly Shakespeare as my humanities class, and 18.02 (Calculus). Calculus is the only class in which I’m not starting at the very bottom, since I passed out of 18.01 with a 5 on the AP Calculus BC exam.

My high school was pretty heavy on AP classes, with something like 28 different AP classes and exams offered, but I didn’t have any idea where I was applying for college when I took most of them (much like I have no idea what I’m doing with my life), so I took AP Chemistry and two years of AP Computer Science – neither of which are accepted for credit at MIT. And I’m fairly sure the amount of AP credit you have that applies to MIT isn’t even really considered in admissions (I didn’t even send in my scores until this summer); it just allows you to take harder classes. (Who DOES that?)

So if you have a 5 on AP Calculus BC exam, you can place out of 18.01 and take 18.02, 18.022, 18.023, 18.024, or 18.02A. If you want to review, you can still take 18.01, or 18.01A, which reviews 18.01 in just six weeks. If you have a 5 on AP Biology, you place out of 7.012/7.013/7.014 (all variations on the same class) and can go ahead and take 7.02 or 7.03.

If you don’t have AP classes or exams offered at your schools, but have taken an equivalent class, don’t freak out. Study a little over the summer, bring your notes to school, and you can take the advanced standing exam for calculus, chemistry, biology, or physics. You may be tempted to say, “That’s so much cheaper/better for me since I’m a huge procrastinator!” (AP exams were $95 when I left high school, and rising. I spent more on AP exams than I ever did at prom, or, y’know, in my life.) This might work out for you, or it might not. But it IS much easier to take the AP exam when it’s fresh in your mind.

For some exams, AP credit isn’t given because it doesn’t sufficiently cover what an MIT class would – chemistry, for example. Getting a 5 on the AP exam is not the same as passing the advanced standing exam, which is notoriously difficult. But it can be done.

If you have a 5 on one of the AP English exams, or pass the Freshman Essay Evaluation (FEE), you win! Your prize is taking any communication-intensive class you want! If you don’t, no worries; there are just fewer humanities classes you’re allowed to take. If you have a 5 on both, you can get 9 units of elective credit for one of the exams. 9 units of elective credit is awarded for most of the advanced placement humanities, which just helps you free time to take more classes that could help you figure out your major. There is a small list of exams that are not awarded with credit – three of which I took in high school. (Yeah, I’m awesome.)

Receiving AP credit is explained much better here, and you can check out all classes at MIT on the MIT Course Catalogue. You can also check out this page for receiving credit for college courses, which is generally evaluated the same as if you were a transfer student. But really, if you’re applying to MIT while taking AP Statistics, AP Studio Art and AP Environmental Science, don’t even sweat it. It never hurts to know how to do a chi-square test (or to forget it, either. Sorry, Mr. Lindberg). The important thing is you’re challenging yourself while having a great senior year. Because in a short while, you’ll be just as lost and confused as I am. How sad for you.

Seriously, though, I AM the youngest blogger, and it’s been a very short while since I was in your shoes, so please feel free to ask me questions about SATs, APs, college applications, or my horrible AP Chemistry teacher – I can tell you so much more about that than about MIT classes (my first of which is at 12 today). Bring back the permission slips!

11 responses to “Passing Out”

  1. Christina says:


  2. Colin says:


    You’re the craziest of anyone I know.



  3. thekeri says:

    Christina is so, so mean.

    AP Credit is awesome, even though my 18.02 recitation today made me feel like an absolute idiot.

  4. Shannon says:


    My teacher talked for a good 30 minutes about the girls’ tennis team once in the middle of class. This is also the man who thinks a grade of 3 is the highest anyone can get on the test because “we don’t cover enough in this class.”

    You shouldn’t have started this topic. How bad was yours?

  5. Sanja says:

    Hi! Sorry ’bout the totally unrelated question, but you said we can ask you qustions about SAT smile

    Well… I’m an international student and I will take SATs this year. Can you (or the other people here) recommend me preparation books for it or is there just one type of prep book?

    Btw, since this is my first post on this blog, congratulations on becoming MIT blogger smile

  6. Andrew says:

    Heh. AP Comp Sci last year. AP Stats and AP Physics B [we don’t offer C] this year. Hooray for no credit classes!

  7. Mike says:

    ouch APs are that much?!? My school pays for all our tests…and it’s a public school too… so hooray for me?

  8. Jon says:

    Ugh…..I’m pretty sure the Collegeboard IS hell….like, if you go to hell, you end up in the Collegeboard building. And no, there isn’t just one devil, there are entire COMMITTEES of devils devoted to causing pain and suffering to high school kids throughout the nation (….can we sue for that?)

    Exhibit A: AP US History last year…….pretty much freakin owned my life, especially the second half of the year

    Exhibit B: AP Chemistry this year. Granted, I have an AWESOME teacher (who used to/still might? read applications for MIT), but we’ve been in school for 5 days, had 3 long homework assignments, started/finished 3 labs, and have a ginormous review test tomorrow of all the material we covered in basic chemistry class junior year….

    essentially AP = HELL……..and we’re all masochists

  9. Drew says:

    You forgot one very, very important thing. If you pay for the AP exams, you get fun bar codes so you can make a statement about the capitalist system and look like an idiot at the same time. And make the papers that have the seals into paper airplanes. Why else would they charge so much?

  10. Omar '10 says:

    Hey Jess,
    I just started reading your blog today and it’s amazing! Keep up the good work!!! smile