US: Secondary Awards and Qualifications

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Structure of the U.S. Education System:
School Leaving Qualifications

College Board Advanced Placement (AP)

College Board Advanced Placement (AP) is a program of tertiary-level courses and examinations in 20 subjects, taught by specially qualified teachers, that provides opportunities for secondary graduates to earn undergraduate credits for first-year university courses.  The schools and teachers offering AP programs must meet College Board requirements and are monitored.  Nearly 60 percent of U.S. secondary schools offer AP courses and over 2 million examinations are administered annually.  Some 90 percent of U.S. higher education institutions, and many foreign institutions, accept AP credits.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

International Baccalaureate (IB) is a recognized international program of primary, middle, and secondary studies leading to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma.  This diploma (or certificate) is recognized in Europe and elsewhere as qualifying holders for direct access to university studies.  Schools offering the IB program are approved by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) and their regional office and may use IBO instructional materials, local school materials, or a combination.  There are nearly 800 U.S. schools offering IB programs, which are accepted at many U.S. colleges and universities.  Over 40,000 U.S. students earn IB diplomas each year.

National Merit Scholarships (NMS)

National Merit Scholarships (NMS) are nationally recognized awards given to high school students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents on the basis of standardized test scores from the PSAT/NMSQT test.  Some 8,200 students receive NMS monetary awards each year, and over 1.4 million compete.

National Achievement Scholarships (NAS)

National Achievement Scholarships (NAS) are nationally recognized awards given to African-American high school students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents on the basis of standardized test scores from the PSAT/NMSQT test.  Some 700 students receive NAS monetary awards each year, and over 130,000 compete.

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