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Articles / Preparing for College / Here's What Your AP Scores Mean

Here's What Your AP Scores Mean

Rob Franek
Written by Rob Franek | July 21, 2021
Here's What Your AP Scores Mean

How Are AP Exams Scored?

AP exams are scored on a scale from 1 to 5

Score of 5: Extremely well qualified

Score of 4: Well qualified

Score of 3: Qualified

Score of 2: Possibly qualified

Score of 1: No recommendation

A four or five is the score that will most likely earn you college AP credit. Of course, no matter how you do on the test, you still get a grade for that class from your high school. Good grades in Advanced Placement courses always look good on your transcript!

Do Colleges Look at AP Scores?

Advanced Placement courses can help you get college credit, and they may help you get admitted. Whether you just got your AP scores back or are considering taking an AP class, here's everything you need to know about Advanced Placement scores.

What Are Advanced Placement Scores Used for?

In general, these scores can be used for college credit, for placing you in certain college course requirements and to show admission officers that you have pushed yourself academically in high school. Different colleges use your Advanced Placement scores in varying ways, so it is important that you go to each college's website to determine how it uses the scores.

1. Earn College Credit

Many colleges will give you university-level credit if you score well on an Advanced Placement exam. These credits count toward your graduation requirements, meaning that you might be able to take fewer courses while in college or get started on your major sooner. Learn more about how to earn AP credit for college.

2. Satisfy College Requirements

Some colleges will allow you to “place out" of certain requirements if you do well on an AP exam, even if they do not give you actual college credits. For example, you might be able to skip the huge survey course and dive right into more specialized classes for your major.

3. Look Good to Admissions Officers

Even if your scores don't end up earning you college credit or allowing you to place out of certain courses, most colleges will respect your decision to push yourself by taking an Advanced Placement course. Taking the course and getting a good grade in it actually matters more than your score, but earning a four or five could help your application out as well.

Score BIG? You Could Win Awards

If you earn a three or higher on at least three Advanced Placement tests, you meet the baseline criteria for The College Board's AP Scholar Awards. Unlike National Merit Scholarships (for high scores on the PSAT), winning an AP Award doesn't earn you any scholarship dollars. But your designation as an AP Award winner does appear on your Score Report for colleges. There are multiple awards offered (like AP Scholar with Honor, AP Scholar with Distinction, etc.) with different requirements and awards at the state, national and international levels.

A version of this post originally appeared on CC in 2018.

More questions about on AP scores?

Read more articles about AP scores, or join the conversation in the College Confidential AP test forums.

Written by

Rob Franek

Rob Franek

College Admissions and Test Prep Expert

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