Feb. 7, 2021
Regardless of whether or not you agree with the recent changes to the AP exams, the fact remains that an increasing number of high school students are taking AP exams each year. The number of public high school graduates in the US who took at least one AP exam has gone from 752,255 (25.1 percent) since the graduating class of 2008 to 1,242,990 (38.9 percent) in the graduating class of 2018.
The College Board recently released a report that includes the statistics on AP exam scores in each state, so let's take a look at some of the insights gathered from the graduating classes of the past ten years.
One key finding was that the national average has consistently gone up in the last ten years, when looking at all of the AP exams taken by a graduating class throughout their entire high school years. Some 23.5 percent of the graduating class of 2018 received a score of three or higher on an AP exam, compared to 15.3 percent in the class of 2008.
(Just as a refresher: All AP exams are scored from one to five, and three is considered a passing score that can often earn you a credit or advanced placement from some colleges. More competitive colleges, however, may only accept four or five.)
Massachusetts took the top spot in AP performance for the class of 2018. The state led the nation with 32.9 percent of its 2018 class attaining a score of three or higher on one or more AP exams. Connecticut wasn't far behind with 32.2 percent, while Florida came in third place with 31.7 percent, followed closely by Maryland with 31.6 percent and California with 31.3 percent.
The state with the lowest percentage was Mississippi, with only 6.7 percent of its class of 2018 earning a score of three or higher on AP exams.
Although the District of Colombia fell below the 2018 national average, with 19.6 percent of its class of 2018 students scoring a three or higher, the region showed the largest increase in the past five years. From the class of 2017 to the class of 2018, D.C. students earning a score of three or higher moved up 2.8 percentage points, while the national average moved up only 0.7 percentage points. From the class of 2015 to the class of 2018, D.C. students showed an increase of 5.6 percentage points, and in the years between the class of 2013 to the class of 2018, students in D.C. showed an impressive 8.4 jump in percentage points.
Curious about which states boasted the most scores of five among the graduating class of 2018? New Jersey beat out everyone with 20.2 percent of scored AP exams earning a five, while Connecticut came in second with 18.5 percent and Massachusetts was right behind with 18 percent.
For more data, read the College Board's report in its entirety, which includes additional insights.