If the Advanced Placement Program or International Baccalaureate Program is offered at your high school, consider enrolling in one or two upper-level classes each year. Doing well in classes that are more challenging than the standard level offered by your school will catch the eye of an admissions officer later on. At the end of the year, you can also choose to take AP or IB exams; high scores may be rewarded with college credit.

Your school may offer AP courses, IB courses, both, or neither. Depending on what is offered, the decision may be made for you. If your school offers both types of classes, though, you may have to make a choice since taking too many upper-level classes could actually be detrimental to your GPA. Participating in the IB Program or taking AP classes and passing the associated exams can lead to college credit in the future.

Students can take Advanced Placement classes throughout high school, but it is recommended to start with just one or two AP classes and work up to a heavier load as time passes. There are also more opportunities to take these upper-level classes as high school progresses. Though taking AP exams is not required, passing scores may result in college credits or the ability to skip intro-level classes in college.

The IB Diploma Programme is a two-year curriculum offered to high school juniors and seniors. Students do not have to take the entire curriculum and can instead pick and choose IB classes that interest them. IB exams are given at the end of the school year and passing scores may result in college credit or the ability to skip intro-level classes in college. Students who complete the entire IB curriculum and pass all of their exams receive an IB diploma.