Yes. We recommend taking the AP course before taking an AP Exam—but it’s not required. We want to be sure homeschooled students and students in schools that don’t offer AP can take AP Exams.
You will have to arrange to take the exam at your school or, if your school doesn’t administer the exam, at a local school or testing center that administers it. See The AP Exam I want to take isn’t offered at my school. What should I do? and I’m homeschooled. How can I take an AP Exam? for details.
To prepare for the exam without taking the course, you should study the skills and content outlined in the course and exam description for your subject, which you can find on the specific course page. For most courses, this document also explains how your knowledge of the course content and skills is assessed on the exams.
Get to know the exams by reviewing free practice questions. The AP Program releases the free-response questions every year for exams that have them. We also offer free-response questions from past exams along with sample student responses and scoring guidelines so you can see why a real exam taker got the score they did.
Note: AP Seminar and AP Research are exceptions. Only students whose schools offer the AP Capstone program can enroll in AP Seminar or AP Research and submit performance tasks and/or take the AP Seminar End-of-Course Exam.