About AP Scores

AP Exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5. Many U.S. colleges grant credit and/or advanced placement (that means they let you skip the equivalent course once you get to college) for scores of 3 and above.

Keep in Mind

Your total score is calculated from your section scores.

For most AP Exams, your score is a weighted combination of your scores on the 2 sections, multiple-choice and free-response. Some AP courses have assessments that include other scored components.

AP Exams are scored on a 5-point scale.

The final score for each AP Exam is reported on a 5-point scale that offers a recommendation about how qualified you are to receive college credit and placement—but each college makes its own decisions about what scores it will grant credit or placement for.

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AP score setting is based on research.

The AP Program conducts studies in all AP subjects to correlate the performance of AP students with that of college students in comparable college courses. These studies help set the “cut points” that determine how AP students’ composite scores are translated into an AP score of 1–5.

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How are AP Exams scored?

After the AP Exams are administered, schools return all paper AP Exam materials to the AP Program. Then, for most AP courses:

  • The multiple-choice section is scored by computer. Each answer sheet is scanned and the total number of correct responses equals the multiple-choice score.
  • The free-response section (essays and open-ended questions) and through-course performance tasks are scored at the annual AP Reading held during the first two weeks in June. Specially appointed college professors and experienced AP teachers score this section of the exam.
  • The total scores from the free-response section and the multiple-choice section are combined to form a composite score. These composite scores are then translated into the 5-point scale using statistical processes designed to ensure that, for example, a 3 this year reflects the same level of achievement as a 3 last year.

The assessments for AP Seminar, AP Research, AP Computer Science Principles, the three AP Art and Design courses, and AP African American Studies are different. See each course page for details.

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Who receives my scores?

You, the college, university, or scholarship program you designated using your free score send, and educators in your school and district, including your AP teachers, will automatically receive your scores once they’re released. You can also submit an online order to send your scores to additional colleges and universities for a fee. Your parents don’t have access to your scores, unless you’ve given them your College Board account login information. 

If your school, district, or state partners with other educational organizations, your scores and/or personally identifying information may be shared with those specific educational organizations. To find out whether your scores will be shared with any of these organizations, ask your school. 

If you’re a resident of the state of Kentucky, your AP Exam scores will automatically be sent to the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA). If you don’t want your scores sent to KHEAA, send us a request. Your request must be received by June 15 of the year you took the exam. Write to: AP Program, Educational Testing Service, 1425 Lower Ferry Road, 29Q, Ewing, NJ 08618. Be sure to include your full name, mailing address, date of birth, gender, eight-digit AP ID, and your six-digit high school code number. 

Score reports include both this year’s and past AP Exam scores, along with certain demographic information about you and other information you provide during testing. Colleges, universities, and scholarship programs that you send your scores to may use your information to contact you about admissions and educational, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities. We also share with your school and district the names of the organizations you choose to send your AP Exam scores to.    

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Do colleges look at AP Exam scores when deciding whether to admit an applicant?

Check the admissions websites of the colleges that interest you to see if sending your official scores will help support your application. In general, colleges want to see that you’re taking the most rigorous coursework available to you. By enrolling in AP courses, you demonstrate that you’re interested in challenging yourself and learning at a college level.

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If I don't get a good score on an AP Exam, will it hurt my chances for college admission?

When making admission decisions, colleges consider many more factors than just exam scores, including the strength of your coursework and your GPA in rigorous courses. By enrolling in AP courses, you demonstrate that you are interested in challenging yourself and learning at a college level. Taking AP Exams shows colleges you’re willing to work hard and complete college-level work, regardless of your score.

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What’s the average score for AP Exams?

The mean score for the 2023 AP Exams was 2.96. More than 60% of all exams taken earned a score of 3 or higher. To learn more about individual exams, visit AP Score Distributions.

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How do I save a copy of my AP score report?

A downloadable version of your score report is available in AP Scores for Students in PDF format. This is an unofficial copy of your score report intended for your own records. To send an official score report to a college, university, or scholarship program, you’ll need to sign in to AP Scores for Students and order one.

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