What’s a “Good” AP Score?
In the spring, it's not uncommon for AP students to find themselves wondering, “What’s a ‘good’ AP score?” The answer to that question depends on your goals. Many students use AP courses and exams to stand out on their college applications. Some are hoping to earn college credit or advanced placement. Others take AP classes to explore their interests and decide whether to pursue a subject further in college.
Here are the research-based answers to that question, depending on the goal(s) you may have:
What’s a “good” AP score if I want to earn college credit or advanced placement?
AP Exams are scored on a scale of 1−5. The lowest score is 1, and the highest is 5.
Many U.S. colleges grant credit, advanced placement, or both for scores of 3 and higher. Earning credit means that a college offers you a specific number of college credits for your score, which counts toward the total needed for your degree. Earning advanced placement means that you can skip certain introductory courses and gain placement in more advanced courses through your AP scores.
More schools than ever offer credit, advanced placement, or both. You can use the AP Credit Policy Search tool to find out what the required scores are for the colleges or universities that you’re interested in.
What’s a “good” AP score if my goal is to stand out on my college applications?
Students who take AP courses and complete their exams show colleges they’re serious about their education and are willing to challenge themselves with college-level coursework. In fact, 85% of selective colleges and universities report that a student’s AP experience favorably impacts admissions decisions.
"Your AP class is similar to the courses you’ll experience at college. It’s important to finish strongly by taking your AP Exam and seeing the class through to the end, just like you would do with a college course. Regardless of your exam score, the hard work you put in all year will benefit you in college and beyond."
John Barnhill, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, Florida State University
What’s a “good” AP score if I want to know if I’m ready for college classes?
The experience that comes with completing an AP course and exam gets you closer to achieving your college goals. During an AP course, you’ll develop skills such as time management, critical thinking, scholarly writing, and independent study. Sharpening these skills as you prepare for your AP Exam makes your transition from high school to college easier, no matter what your score is.
Students who earn AP Exam scores of 1 or 2:
- Often earn a higher score on the next AP Exams they take.
- Are more likely to attend college and graduate on time than students who don’t take AP.
Over 90% of first-year students in college who had earned a 2 on an AP Exam said they’re doing well or very well in college courses that cover similar content.
“I can say without a doubt that AP has helped me mature as a student and as a person. It helped me grow my academic confidence and build better time management and problem-solving skills. I felt like I was getting a glimpse of the challenges I would encounter in college, and it made me feel calmer to know that I could overcome any of these situations.”
Sofia, AP Alum
Regardless of your score, the experience of preparing for and taking your AP Exam will help you build the skills you’ll need to transition from high school to college. Your AP Exam score is only one measure of your progress.