AP® Chemistry Scoring & Score Calculator

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 7 free-response questions. Of the 7 questions present in Section II, 4 are short-answer questions and 3 are long-essay questions.

Let’s take a look at how these questions are scored in 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 1 point each Short-answer: Up to 4 points each
Long-essay: 10 points each
Total Score 60 points 46 points
Scoring Method Digital scoring Scored manually by AP Readers

Once your AP Chemistry exam has been graded, your total score will be translated into a 5-point scale. This is done by taking a weighted combination of your total score from each section, which is then correlated to a score from 1 to 5 on the scale.

Most colleges consider a score of 3 or more while allocating college credit. Earning a college credit means that you would be allowed to 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 is translated as a weighted combination into a final score of 1 to 5. Each score is equivalent to a student’s performance level. Based on these scores, colleges decide which candidates are eligible for college credit. Currently, students need to score a 3 or above to qualify.

This scoring scale was developed after in-depth research conducted by the AP Program. The main aim of AP Chemistry is to teach you college-level foundational chemistry while you’re still in high school. Hence, the board ensures that your performance, which is measured by your final AP Chem score, can be correlated to a college student’s performance in a college-level chemistry course.

“Only two students got a perfect score on the AP Chemistry May 2021 exam.”

Let’s take a look at what each final score on the 5-point scale equates to in terms of college grades and how each score translates to how well-qualified you might be for earning college credit.

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

As you can see, scores below 3 do not equate to a good college grade. Scoring a 4 or 5 on the exam is considered excellent, and you will most likely be eligible for college credit. However, as you can see from the table above, even a score of 3 can allow you to receive college credit.

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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 2021 alone, 135,997 students from around the world took the exam. However, over 50% of students scored a final score of 3 or above.

Let’s take a look at the AP Chemistry score distribution for May 2021.

Final Score No. of Students % of Students
(2021 Exam)
5 15,195 11.2%
4 22,355 16.4%
3 32,344 23.7%
2 33,648 24.7%
1 32,555 23.9%

Although it is highly popular, you must keep in mind that AP Chemistry is still a fairly difficult exam; only about half of test takers attain college credit. However, if you’re worried about how to score well on this exam, don’t be. 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 also take a look at how students fared in the 2020 and 2019 exams as well. Based on historical information, the AP Chemistry exam has maintained consistency in the number of test takers and the difficulty level.

Final Score 2020 Exam 2019 Exam 2018 Exam
  % of Students No. of Students % of Students No. of Students % of Students No. of Students
5 10.6 15,427 11.5 18,267 12.6 20,393
4 18.6 27,070 16.6 26,369 17.3 28,000
3 26.9 39,150 27.5 43,683 25.0 40,463
2 24.0 34,929 23.0 36,535 24.1 39,006
1 19.9 28,962 21.4 33,993 21.0 33,989

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 wouldn’t qualify you for free college credit.

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

University AP Chemistry Minimum
Score Requirement
Harvard, 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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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, you may be allowed to skip freshman chemistry and jump right into a higher-level course. However, scoring a 3 may allow you to qualify for college credit, but you will have to contact your future college or university to see what kind of credit you would receive.

In recent years, AP Chemistry scores have fluctuated negligibly, changing by only a few percentage points. The average AP Chemistry score has been ranging from 2.60 to 2.80 since 2016.

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 at various times in the year. AP Chemistry is a difficult college-level course. The curve is intended to account for the course’s difficulty while also providing an authentic assessment of the test-taker’s skills and knowledge.

The AP Chemistry scores will be available in July each year.

This varies from college to college. You may need to check with the admissions office before deciding.

With the right study material, an efficient study plan, and dependable review resources, you can definitely score a 5 on the exam.

The College Board®

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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