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Articles / Applying to College / How Much Credit for AP Exam Results?

How Much Credit for AP Exam Results?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | May 27, 2020

Question: My son, a high school senior, was told by one college on his list that he would get credit for the three 3's he earned on AP tests. Do all schools have this policy? It sounds too good to be true.

Yep, you nailed. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Indeed, some colleges do award credit for 3's. But many don't. Some award credit in some subject areas for 4's and 5's but in other areas for only 5's. Likewise, colleges may give varying amount of credit for the same test result, depending on the AP subject. Confused? You should be!


At Yale, for instance, once you've successfully navigated a labyrinth of Web pages to get to the chart on this one http://www.yale.edu/yalecollege/freshmen/academics/acceleration/table.html you'll find that a score of 5 on the AP Biology exam is worth 1 credit, but no credit is awarded for the AP Environmental Science test, regardless of score. Those who earn a 4 or a 5 on AP Computer Science AB will also get 1 credit but nothing for AP Comp Sci A. French stand-outs will be happy to know that a 4 or 5 will provide 2 credits at Yale; ditto in German. You get the picture.

In other words, not only does each college or university make its own rules, but often individual departments within an institution get that right, too.

This College Board site http://www.collegeboard.com/ap/creditpolicy/institution/0,4098,1846,00.html allows you to type in a school's name and, from there, you are supposed to be directed to the place on the college's own Web site where AP credit policies are spelled out. Sometimes it works well; sometimes it leads to a treasure hunt (with no treasure).

Then, once you've figured out how many credits the test scores are worth, it's a whole other project to decipher what the students are allowed to do with them ("Can be applied only to major-field classes;" "Cannot be applied to courses in the field of concentration;" "Can be used to make up deficiencies but not to accelerate ...")

Good luck and happy hunting!

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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