AP® Calculus AB Score Guide
Have you opted for the AP® Calculus AB exam? One of the first steps in preparing in preparing efficiently for the exam is to know the scoring metrics. Learning the scoring pattern for the exam can help you strategize your study plan. This method also allows you to focus selectively on sections of the exam where you think you can score high and strengthen your skills in more challenging areas. If you are taking the AP Calc AB exam soon and are curious about how it is scored, you’ve come to the right place! This is your guide to the AP Calculus AB scoring system.
How Is the AP Calculus AB Exam Scored?
AP Calculus AB exam consists of two sections: multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and free-response questions (FRQs). 45 MCQs comprise Section One of the exam, and six FRQs or long-answer questions constitute Section Two. Each section carries 50% of the total composite score, totaling the overall score of 108.
|Section I||45 MCQs||54 points|
|Section II||6 FRQs||54 points|
As you can see from the table above, the 54 points in the MCQ section are distributed across 45 questions in Section One. Roughly, each MCQ in this section carries 1.2 points for a correct answer. The exam does not penalize you for wrong answers, so never leave a question blank. If you're unsure of the correct answer, make your best guess.
In Section Two, each question carries 9 points, totaling 54 points for six questions. These 9 points include two criteria: first, demonstrating the proper steps to solve a problem, and second, determining the correct answer. As this section involves the ‘step-marking’ method, you will get a partial point for every critical step of the problem that you approach correctly, even if you falter after a few steps and reach an incorrect answer.
AP Calculus AB Raw Score Conversion
Your final score combines the number of correct points earned out of a possible 108. This composite score is then converted into a number on the AP score scale, ranging from 1 to 5. Remember that the raw score conversion process is kept confidential by the College Board®. Your composite score on the AP Exam is never presented publicly.
Keeping these AP Calculus AB scoring guidelines in mind, we are now ready to look at how your AP scores reflect on your college applications. Let’s find out which AP scores can get you recommendation, placement and college credits!
AP Calculus AB Scoring Table
After your Calculus AB exam scores are recorded on the AP grading scale, they are sent to the respective colleges that you’ve selected for admission. If you want to learn how to have the College Board send your AP scores to your college, check out our page on AP Exam Scores.
Although each college has its criteria for granting admissions based on AP scores, most colleges follow a standard formula when converting your AP Calculus AB score to the equivalent college grade. Following is the AP score table showing the conversion of AP scores into equivalent college grades for the Calc AB exam:
|AP Exam Score||College Grade Equivalent||Qualification|
|5||A+ or A||Extremely well qualified|
|4||A-, B+, or B||Very well qualified|
|3||B-, C+, or C||Qualified|
As you can see from the table, most colleges do not consider scores below 3 during admissions. The rule of thumb would be to aim for a score of 3 or higher if you’re considering getting college credits and Advanced Placement® for your AP Calc AB exam score. Always remember to check with the colleges you intend to apply to on their minimum requirements.
“A recent research found that students who achieve a score of 2 in AP Calculus AB earn significantly higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA!”
AP Calculus AB Score Distributions
AP Calculus AB is one of the most popular AP exams students take every year. This is because Calc AB remains one of the core AP courses that can earn you Advanced Placement and/or course credit as you enter college. There are numerous other benefits of taking your AP exam for Calculus AB. Check out our AP Calculus AB Exam guide to discover why taking the Calc AB exam could be beneficial for your career.
As of 2022, a total of 268,352 students took the AP Calculus AB exam, with 55.7% of test-takers scoring a 3, 4, and 5. In the past four-year period, i.e., from 2019 to 2022, this percentage averaged around 56.2%. That’s an encouraging success rate considering the complexity of AP Calc AB!
Let’s crunch some numbers below to get an idea about the AP Calculus AB score distributions:
|AP Score||% of Students 2022||% of Students 2021||% of Students 2020||% of Students 2019||Average for the
past four years
As you can see from the table above, scoring high on the Calculus AB exam was more in 2021 compared to other years. Across the board, over 50% of students scored 3 or higher. AP Calculus AB exam is a challenging subject, but you can score 5 with the right study tools, course instruction, and dedication!
UWorld’s online AP Calculus AB practice exams will help you get there! Taking practice tests will help you track your progress and address confusing areas to help you form a solid foundation of core calculus concepts. You can also make quick notes and use our flashcards to revisit concepts and theorems in a jiffy when reviewing for the exam.
Scoring pattern for the 2022 and 2021 AP Calculus AB exams
To secure a good AP Calc AB score, you need to understand the scoring pattern for the exam. This will help you know which might be a high scoring section for you and which concepts you may need to focus more on! Let’s start by analyzing the 2022 AP Calculus AB scoring pattern and learn how scores were distributed across the multiple-choice and free-response sections:
- The strongest performance was on Unit 4: Contextual Applications of Differentiation, in which where 32% of students answered 5-6 questions correctly out of the 6 possible questions.
- The most challenging unit in the MCQ section was Unit 3: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions. 11% of students earned 0 points on those questions.
The FRQ 3 on graphical analysis was the toughest question on the exam.
For the 2021 pen-and-paper exam, students scored significantly higher on the Multiple-Choice section than the Free-Response questions.
In the multiple-choice section, the following trends emerged:
- Students demonstrated the strongest proficiency in Unit 4: Contextual Applications of Differentiation, with 11% of students earning a perfect score across the questions on this unit.
- On average, students scored the lowest on Unit 7: Differential Equations, in which 4% answered all questions correctly, and 9% answered none correctly.
The Free-Response Section showed the following patterns:
- The most challenging question for the 2021 exam was Question 3 on area-volume; disc method. 3% of students earned 7 to 9 points out of a possible 9.
- The highest results were on Question 4 on graphical analysis. 14% of students earned 7 to 9 points out of a possible 9.
AP Calculus AB Minimum Score Requirement for College Credits
As we mentioned earlier, most colleges across the US recognize AP exam scores to grant credit or advanced placement to their students. Having a score of 3 or higher can earn you college credits, which could help you graduate from college early In some colleges, a score of 3 or higher can give you a chance to skip the core math course in the first semester and still get a grade for it, which gets labeled as ‘advanced placement’. Some colleges offer both advanced placement and credits, which means you’ll earn the credits and also be able to skip the course!
Each institution maintains its own criteria for acknowledging AP scores. Some colleges accept an AP score of 3, while some demand a 5. Some colleges don’t offer you any credit but grant you a higher level placement for your AP score. When you’re preparing for your AP Calculus AB exam, it’s helpful to know your college AP score requirements so you create a study plan accordingly.
We’ve compiled a list of institutions around the country and the AP scores they accept for admission to help you narrow your search. The list also includes the courses you can bypass for a specific AP score and whether you earn credits for taking the AP Calculus AB exam. Let’s have a look.
|Institution||AP Score||AP Recognition||Credit/Placement type||Credits|
|California State University||3/4/5||Credit||Subject to qualifying conditions||3|
|Georgia Tech||4/5||Credit||MATH 1551||2 semester hrs|
|Grinnell College||3||Credit||MAT 133||
4 semester credits after passing MAT 133 (math major credit on approval by Mathematics Dept.)
4 semester credits.
|4/5||MAT-124 or 131|
|Harvard University||5||Credit||Subject to other qualifying conditions||4|
|Louisiana State University||3||Credit||MATH 1431||3 credit hrs|
|MATH 1550||5 credit hrs|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||5||Placement||18.01A/18.02A||No credit|
|Mississippi State University||3/4/5||Credit||MA 1713||3 credit hrs|
|New York University||4/5||Credit||MATH-UA 121||4|
|Equivalent course: MATH 10550||4 credits towards MATH 10091|
|Reed College||5||Credit||Placement determined in consultation with the faculty||1 credit|
|Math 21 or 51
(Placement subject to Department or Registrar)
|6 quarter units|
|Truman State University||3||Credit
Essentials of Calculus
|4/5||MATH 198: Analytic Geometry & Calculus I||5|
(School of Letters and Science)
|Yale University||5||Credit||MATH 115,
MATH 116, or MATH 118
|1 (subject to other qualifying conditions)|