AP® Chemistry Score Guide

The AP® Chemistry exam has two sections. Each section accounts for 50% of the overall score. Section I includes 60 multiple-choice questions, while Section II has seven free-response questions. Of the 7 questions in Section II, 4 are short-answer questions, and 3 are long-essay questions.

Let’s look at the scoring methodology for each section.

  Section I
Multiple-Choice Questions
Section II
Free-Response Questions
Total Questions 60 7 (4 short answer, 3 long essay)
Points per Question _ Short-answer: 4 points each
Long-essay: 10 points each
Exam Score Weight 50% 50%
Scoring Method Digital scoring Scored manually by AP Readers

Your final score is on a 5-point scale related to your point tally. A weighted combination of your total score from each section converts to a score from 1 to 5 on the scale.

Many colleges consider a score of 3 or more while allocating college credit. Earning a college credit means you could skip an equivalent college-level foundational course in chemistry during your first year.

AP Chemistry Scoring Table

As you know now, your total score on the AP Chem exam translates to a weighted combination into a final score of 1 to 5. Each score is equivalent to a student’s performance level. Colleges decide which candidates are eligible for college credit based on these scores. Currently, students need to score a 3 or above to qualify.

This College Board® developed the AP scoring scale after conducting in-depth research. The main aim of AP Chemistry is to teach you college-level foundational chemistry while you’re still in high school. Hence, this scoring system ensures your performance on the exam correlates to a college student’s performance in a college-level chemistry course.

“11 students got a perfect score on the AP Chemistry May 2023 exam.”

Let’s explore how each score translates to how well-qualified you might be for earning college credit. Each final score on the 5-point scale equates to college grades as indicated below.

AP Chemistry Score Qualification College Grade Equivalent
5 Extremely well qualified A+ or A
4 Very well qualified A-, B+, or B
3 Qualified B-, C+, or C
2 Possibly Qualified
1 No recommendation

Scoring a 4 or 5 on the exam is considered excellent, and you will most likely be eligible for college credit. At many schools, a score of 3 may also earn college credit. Though colleges typically only give credits for scores of 3 or higher, research by the College Board shows that students who earn a 2 are well prepared to succeed in introductory coursework and tend to perform better in those courses than their peers who did not take AP Chemistry.

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AP Chemistry Score Distribution

AP Chemistry is popular among high school students who intend to further their education in science at the college level. In May 2023 alone, 139,448 students worldwide took the exam. Over 75% of students scored a final score of 3 or above.

Let’s take a look at the AP Chemistry score distribution for May 2023.

Final Score No. of Students % of Students (2023 Exam)
5 22,312 16%
4 37,790 27.1%
3 44,623 32%
2 23,567 16.9%
1 11,156 8%

Although it is highly popular, AP Chemistry is a rigorous exam; only about half of test takers attain college credit. If you’re worried about how to score well on this exam, rest easy. With the right kind of study materials, practice questions, planning, and review tools, you’ll be well on your way to a high score.

For the sake of comparison, let’s examine how students fared in the 2022, 2021 and 2019 exams. Based on historical information, the AP Chemistry exam maintains a consistent number of test takers and difficulty level each year.

AP Chemistry Scores and Placement

As we mentioned earlier, most colleges require a minimum score of 3 to allow you to qualify for college credit. However, you should also know that just taking the AP Chem course can make your transcript look good to the admissions committee, even if it doesn’t qualify you for free college credit.

If you're gunning for those college credits, here’s a list of top colleges and their minimum AP Chemistry score requirements.

University AP Chemistry Minimum
Score Requirement
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 5
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 5
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 4
Brown University, Providence, RI 4
Boston University, Boston, MA 4
The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 3
The University of Massachusetts, Dorchester, MA 3
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  1. AP Chemistry Exam – AP Central | College Board. (n.d.). https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/ap-chemistry/exam 
  2. Scoring Statistics from the 2023 AP Exam Administration: AP Chemistry. (2023). apcentral.collegeboard.org. Retrieved January 23, 2024, from https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/ap23-chemistry-scoring-statistics.pdf 
  3. 2023 AP Exam Administration Scoring Guidelines - AP Chemistry. (2023). apcentral.collegeboard.org. Retrieved January 23, 2024, from https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/ap23-sg-chemistry.pdf 
  4. Packer. (2023, June 22). The 2023 AP Chemistry scores. twitter.com. Retrieved January 23, 2024, from https://twitter.com/AP_Trevor/status/1671605753461743618?lang=en 
  5. Student Score Distributions* AP Exams - May 2020. (2020). reports.collegeboard.org. Retrieved 2022, from https://reports.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/Student-Score-Distributions-2020_1.pdf 
  6. Student Score Distributions* AP Exams - May 2021. (2021). secure-media.collegeboard.org. Retrieved 2022, from https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/research/2021/2021-ap-student-score-distributions.pdf 
  7. Student Score Distributions* AP Exams - May 2022. (2022). apcentral.collegeboard.org. Retrieved 2022, from https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/ap-score-distributions-by-subject-2022.pdf 
  8. Student Score Distributions* AP Exams - May 2023. (2023). apcentral.collegeboard.org. Retrieved 2024, from https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/ap-score-distributions-by-subject-2023.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions

The AP Chemistry exam has two sections. The first section contains multiple-choice questions and is scored digitally. The second section contains free-response questions and is scored manually by AP Readers. Once both sections are graded, the total score is translated into a 5-point scale. Students who get a 3 or above can get college credit based on their AP Chemistry score.
Scoring a 4 or 5 is the preferred outcome. Why? With these higher scores, it’s more likely that you can skip freshman chemistry. However, scoring a 3 may allow you to qualify for college credit, depending on your college or university’s policies.
AP Chemistry scores have fluctuated negligibly in recent years, changing by only a few percentage points. The average AP Chemistry score has ranged from 2.76 to 3.26 since 2020.
Every year, the College Board® curves AP exam scores to account for normal deviation in question difficulty while retaining a degree of standardization and consistency across AP Chemistry exams administered year to year. AP Chemistry is a difficult college-level course. The curve accounts for the course’s difficulty while also providing an authentic assessment of the test-taker’s skills and knowledge.
The AP Chemistry scores are available in July each year.
This varies from college to college. Check with the admissions office or advisor before selecting your course load.
With the right study material, an efficient study plan, access to exam-like AP Chemistry practice questions and dependable review resources, you can definitely score a 5 on the exam.

Read more about AP Chemistry

Planning to prepare for AP Chemistry? Check out UWorld’s Guide to AP Chem Exam Info, which clearly explains what’s on the exam, why to take AP Chem, prerequisites, and more!
In this article, you’ll get detailed info on the AP Chemistry Exam Format that breaks down the format, types of exam questions, exam length, and the weight of each topic.
Looking for an easy-to-follow AP Chemistry course and exam description? Check out our guide on the AP Chem curriculum for precise info on the exam layout, units, topics, and key concepts.
Do you want to know the best strategies and resources to get the highest possible score in AP Chemistry? Check out our expert’s guide to get a 5 on AP Chemistry effortlessly!
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