AP® Environmental Science Scoring Guide

If you are preparing for your AP® Environmental Science exam, an important first step is to thoroughly understand how the exam is graded in order to set your goal and create a prep strategy. This all-in-one APES scoring guide discusses all the exam scoring guidelines, rubrics, and distributions, and also explores the AP credit and Placement policies of a few colleges.

How Is the AP Environmental Science exam scored?

The AP Environmental Science exam is divided into two sections. Section I consists of multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and is digitally graded by computer, whereas Section II consists of free-response questions (FRQ) and is manually graded by AP teachers and college professors.

To determine your final AP Environmental Science exam score, first the raw scores of both sections are calculated. Next, the raw section scores are combined to generate a composite score. Lastly, the composite score is converted to a scaled score of 1 to 5 using a statistical process to get your final AP Environmental Science exam score.

AP Environmental Science Scoring Guidelines & Rubrics

The score of the MCQ section is determined by the number of questions you answer correctly. There is no penalty for incorrect answers or questions you leave blank, so feel free to make your best guess. On the other hand, the score of the FRQ sections depends on how well you analyze the given prompt in the question. Since there is no one correct answer in the FRQ section, the exam graders use the below rubric to maintain consistency in the scoring structure.

Reporting Category Points Scoring Criteria
(0-1 point)
1 pt. To identify the required information present in the question in the form of study, data, diagram, graph, or example.
(0-1 point)
1 pt. To describe why and how certain events and experiments result the way they do (as per the data/information given in the question).
To Explain
(0-1 point)
1 pt. To explain how and why certain events and experiments are affecting, supporting, or refuting an occurrence. (Support your answer with specific examples or relevant information.)
Make a Claim
(0-1 point)
1 pt. To make a claim about an event or experience, given in the question - whether it is true or false. (Support your answer with specific examples or relevant information.)
(0-1 point)
1 pt. To justify the action or solution proposed in the question. (Support your answer with specific examples or relevant information.)
(0-1 point)
1 pt. To propose a solution to the problem or situation given in the question.
Calculate & Show your work (0-1 point) 1 pt. To do the necessary calculations as per the information required in the question. Remember to show your work neatly and legibly.

AP Environmental Science Scoring Table

When you get your results, the only score displayed will be your final AP Environmental Science score, ranging from 1 to 5. You will not find your composite score or your raw section scores on your score report. Note that the following criteria is used by colleges and universities to identify students who qualify for college credit and/or placement.

AP Exam 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

Generally, a score of 3 or higher is considered a good score for AP students. Most colleges and universities do not take scores below 3 into account when making admissions decisions. Remember, every college has its own AP credit policy. Be sure to go through the official website of your prospective colleges well ahead of time in order to know all the admission policies and requirements.

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AP Environmental Science Score Distributions

Every year, thousands of students take the APES exam from all around the world. In 2022, out of 179,957 students who took the AP ES exam, 53.8% (96,789 students) received a score of 3 or higher. Let's take a look at the distribution of AP Environmental Science scores from 2022 to 2019.

2022 2021 2020 2019
No. of Students % of Students No. of Students % of Students No. of Students % of Students No. of Students % of Students
5 16,006 8.9% 11,179 7.0% 19,391 11.9% 16,192 9.4%
4 49,226 27.4% 39,998 24.9% 46,233 28.5% 44,333 25.7%
3 31,557 17.5% 29,714 18.5% 21,196 13.0% 24,348 14.1%
2 46,581 25.9% 44,333 27.6% 41,489 25.5% 43,816 25.4%
1 36,587 20.3% 35,547 22.1% 34,160 21.0% 43,767 25.4%

AP Environmental Science Minimum Score Requirement for College Credits

In order to be eligible for credit and/or placement, most colleges require students to score a minimum 3 on the AP Environmental Science exam.

Here, we have compiled a list of a few colleges to save you from the hassle of looking up for their AP environmental science credit policy. Note that the admission policies of different colleges are subject to change. Don’t forget to check the requirements of your prospective colleges before applying for admissions.

Institution AP Score AP Recognition Equivalent Course Credits
Colorado State University 3/4/5 Credit
Global Environmental Systems 3 credits
Oregon State University 3/4/5 Credit
Environmental Science Elective 4 credit
Rutgers University 4/5 Credit
Introduction to Environmental Sciences 3 credits
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry 3/4/5 Credit
3 credits
Texas A&M University 3/4/5 Credit
Introduction to Environmental Geoscience 3 credits
University of California, Davis 3/4/5 Credit
Environmental Science and Policy 10 4 credits
University of Lynchburg 4/5 Credit
Environmental Science and Sustainability I and II 8 credits
University of Texas 3/4/5 Credit
Sustaining a Planet 4 Credits
University of Vermont 3/4/5 Credit
Introduction to Environmental Sciences 3 credits

Use UWorld's AP Environmental Science practice tests to prepare for the exam and achieve your target score. These resources are designed to assist you in achieving your desired score by emphasizing crucial topics, tracking your progress, and enhancing your areas of improvement. Start your free trial today!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The AP ES scores are generally released in the month of July. You need to log in with your College Board® account to access your results.

A student is considered to have qualified for the AP ES exam if he or she receives a score of 3 or higher. A score of 4 is considered “highly qualified,” while a score of 5 indicates that the individual is “very well qualified.

There are various pro-tips offered by the College Board to get good scores on the AP Environmental Science exam. We have listed a few below:

  • Answer the question you are most confident about first.
  • Keep an eye on your time.
  • Try to solve all parts of a question.
  • Practice

Yes, it is considered a good score. Many universities prefer scores above 3 for college credits and advanced placement.

The pass rate of the AP Environmental Science exam was 53.8% in 2022 and 50.3% in 2021.

You can definitely achieve a score of 5 with the appropriate study materials, an effective study strategy, and reliable review resources.

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