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Is My AP Score Good Enough?


young woman at exam
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Question: Is My AP Score Good Enough?

Answer: AP scores are much more straight-forward than SAT scores or ACT scores since the AP is graded on a simple 5-point scale. However, not every college treats AP scores the same way.

Students who take the AP exam will get a score ranging from 1 to 5. The College Board defines the numbers as follows:

  • 5 - Extremely well qualified to receive college credit
  • 4 - Well qualified to receive college credit
  • 3 - Qualified to receive college credit
  • 2 - Possibly qualified to receive college credit
  • 1 - No recommendation to receive college credit
The five-point scale, probably not coincidentally, can also be thought of in terms of letter grades:
  • 5 - "A"
  • 4 - "B"
  • 3 - "C"
  • 2 - "D"
  • 1 - "F"
The average score on all AP exams is slightly below a 3 (a 2.89 in 2013). In 2013, of the more than 3 million AP exams administered, the grades broke down as follows:
  • 5 - 14.3% of test takers
  • 4 - 19.9% of test takers
  • 3 - 24.7% of test takers
  • 2 - 22.2% of test takers
  • 1 - 18.8% of test takers

Now for the bad news: Although the College Board defines a 2 as "possibly qualified" to receive college credit, almost no college will accept a score of 2. In fact, most selective colleges will not accept a 3 for college credit.

In the majority of cases, a student who scores a 4 or 5 will receive college credit. In rare cases, a school may require a 5. The exact guidelines vary from college to college, and they often vary from department to department within a college. At Hamilton College, for example, a student can receive credit for a 3 in Latin, but a 5 is required in Economics.

More score and placement info for AP: Biology | Calculus AB | Calculus BC | Chemistry | English Language | English Literature | European History | Physics B | Psychology | Spanish Language | Statistics | U.S. Government | U.S. History | World History

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