AP® Exam Scores

You plan to take the AP® exam this May, but are wondering how the AP exams are graded? And how do your AP scores impact your future prospects of getting into college? Worry not! On this page, we’ll break down the AP scoring system and offer some help in understanding your score. We’ll also guide you through how to access your AP exam scores.

How are AP Exams Scored

The AP exam is scored on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is the minimum score and 5 is the maximum. This number becomes your final AP score. However, your final AP score is calculated on the basis of your composite score, which is the subtotal of your raw scores from Sections I and II of the AP exam.

The AP exam consists of two sections: multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and free-response questions (FRQ). Each question in these sections is worth a specific number of points. These points are multiplied by specific numbers called “multipliers” by the College Board®, which then produces a raw score for each answer. In short,

Points per Answer x Multiplier = Raw Score per Answer

The multipliers vary with each question type, section, and subject, and they are kept confidential by the College Board. After all your answers from a section are individually graded, they are added up to produce your net raw score for that section. These scores are then added up to produce your composite score.

Composite score = Section I (MCQ) score + Section II (FRQ) Score

The College Board converts your final composite score into the AP scoring scale of 1 to 5 using a statistical process to maintain consistency. This is your final AP score that is recorded and presented on your AP score sheet.

Let’s take the AP Biology exam, for example. The AP Biology exam has two sections, the MCQ section and the FRQ section. Each section is worth a score of 60 making up a total score of 120 on the AP Biology exam. The number of points you receive out of 120 is your composite score, which is then translated into the AP scoring scale.

Now let’s learn how the MCQ and FRQ sections are assessed and scored on the AP exam.

Section I: Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs)

The first part of your AP exam consists of MCQs where you need to pick the correct answer from the choices given to you for each question. For most AP exams, the MCQ section usually accounts for 40-50% of your final score. Your MCQ answer sheet is scanned by a machine and a raw score is provided based on the number of answers you got correct.

Remember that you won’t be penalized for a wrong answer. The machine will only score you based on the number of correct answers. So, if you are not sure of a certain answer, feel free to take a guess!

Section II: Free-Response Questions (FRQs) Or Through-Course Performance Tasks

The second part of your AP exam will assess you based on your analytical and problem-solving skills. As the name suggests, the FRQ section allows you to come up with your own response to the given questions. As such, this section does not come with a preset formula.

If you are taking the AP English language exam, you will respond to questions after reading a comprehensive passage. If you are taking one of the AP Math exams, you will have to meticulously solve a math problem step-by-step on your answer sheet. Therefore, it is not possible for a machine to score your responses.

The FRQ or through-course performance tasks section is scored by readers at the annual AP eading in June each year. The annual AP Reading is a convention where college professors and experienced AP teachers appointed by the College Board® gather to score the free-response answer sheets. For most AP exams, the FRQ section accounts for around 50-60% of your composite AP score.

Because scoring this section takes a long time and your free-response answer sheets aren’t graded until mid-June, your AP scores are published around mid-July each year. This timeline is expected for the 2023 AP exams.

How are FRQs graded?

The College Board administers a set of universal scoring criteria developed for each specific response/prompt by the student. Most free-response answers are scored on a scale between 1 and 10, with one being the least appropriate and ten being nearly perfect. However, some exams can have questions worth as much as 12 points, while shorter questions are scored on a smaller scale.

AP readers will evaluate your response using the scoring criteria provided by The College Board for that particular prompt and will award you between 1 and 10 points for your answer. Each free-response is graded with a "holistic" score. That means, your responses are evaluated for their overall effectiveness or correctness. Points are not usually deducted for the occasional small errors, such as spelling or grammar mistakes.

As you may already know, your final raw score for the FRQ section is added with the MCQ raw score to produce your composite score. Because composite scores usually fall between 0 and 100 or 0 and 150, depending on your course, a range of different composite scores can translate to a specific scaled score.

Your composite score is never published by the College Board. Instead, you only get to see your AP scaled score that is reported for college placement and other academic purposes.

Some AP exams have a sub-score, like the AP Calculus BC exam and the AP Music Theory exam. Subscores on these exams enable the colleges to have more information about your specific abilities. This can then be used to shape decisions about your placement or how much college credit you are eligible for.

What Are AP Scores Used for?

Your AP scores are a very important part of your high school transcript and college admission portfolio. Since AP exams are conducted on college-level curricula, AP scores play a vital role in your college admission and graduation. So, do AP scores matter? Let’s find out!

  1. AP scores determine the eligibility of a student during college admissions. Most colleges use AP scores as a benchmark to select prospective students. Having a good AP score sets your application apart and gives you an edge over your peers. It boosts your chances of selection exponentially, and college admissions officers often give your application more weight if you have taken AP exams. In fact, a recent survey reported that a student’s AP experience favorably impacts admission decisions in 85% of colleges across the country.
  2. AP scores are used as indicators of your college readiness. A good AP score implies that you have mastered the elementary level college course and are now ready to take on advanced college courses. This assures the college admission officers and the faculty of your eligibility to take secondary level courses and also boosts your chances of successfully graduating from college.
  3. Good AP scores improve your chances of pursuing challenging career paths like engineering, medicine and law. Some colleges like Ivy League schools and top 20 colleges assess your AP scores to decide whether you’re capable of pursuing the majors you’ve applied for. Insufficient AP scores might affect your chances of choosing certain courses.
  4. AP scores on core courses like English Language and Calculus AB are very important to get admission into good college. Admissions officers and college faculty often rely on good AP scores in these core courses to grant you admission.
“Having AP scores is not mandatory, however it has a huge impact on college admissions, with AP students getting an immense edge over non-AP students.”

What Is Advanced Placement® and Credit?

The main purpose of taking AP exams is to get advanced placement and course credits in colleges for scoring high on the AP exams. As a beginner, these concepts might be a bit tricky to follow. Let’s break these down to understand the impact of having a good AP score on your transcript.

Advanced Placement

If you score a 3, 4 or 5 on an AP exam, most colleges will offer you the chance to skip elementary courses for that particular subject during your freshman year. Since AP courses are equivalent to the elementary courses in college, earning a high score on an AP exam allows you to jump into the next-level courses for that particular subject. In other words, based on your AP scores, the colleges will offer you an ‘advanced placement’ into higher level courses by skipping the elementary ones. Of course, this provision is only valid for the courses that you have taken your AP exam in and earned a qualifying score. Most students take several core AP courses during 11th and 12th grade so that they can bypass the elementary courses in college which are sometimes a requirement for graduation.

Now let’s take a look at how the concept of credits works with AP exams.


Once you have a good score on your AP exams, you are eligible to get college credit. These credits are a way of acknowledging that you have mastered the elementary or core courses that are required for you to graduate. The credits you earn for your AP exam scores count towards the total credits required for you to graduate from college.

Most colleges offer both advanced placement and college credit for a good AP score (3 or higher). Some colleges however, offer either placement or college credit. If you are seeking credit or placement for AP exam scores, you must ensure that the colleges and universities in which you're interested accept the Advanced Placement program. Your AP scores are sent directly to the college or university of your choice by the College Board. You can also send your score report to multiple institutions from your official College Board account for an additional fee ($15/report). Remember that the policies on granting placement or credit on the basis of AP Exam scores vary from institution to institution.

We make really hard stuff easy to understand. Study smarter with UWorld.
Illustration of baseball player swinging, showing the forces between the bat and ball at the point of contact from UWorld's AP course

What AP Exam Scores Do Colleges and Universities Accept?

Most colleges and universities give credit for scores of 3 or higher. However, not all colleges and universities accept all AP exam scores. Institutions generally acknowledge a 4 or a 5 on the AP exam, but some may grant credit for a 3. These scores indicate that you are qualified for an introductory-level college course.

In most colleges however, you will see that they have different score requirements for different subjects. A university might accept a 3 in AP Statistics but a 5 in AP English Language. Also, the number of credits offered for a particular exam score vary from college to college. Below is an indicative table of what AP scores are usually accepted by colleges for offering credits:

AP Exam Score Recommendation College Grade
Probability of AP credit
being applied
5 Extremely well-qualified A+ or A Usually
4 Well qualified A-, B+, or B Usually
3 Qualified B-, C+, or C Maybe
2 Possibly qualified Very rarely
1 No recommendation No

As mentioned earlier, each college has its own placement and credit policy for each AP subject. For example, Harvard accepts only a 5 on the AP Calculus AB exam to grant placement, but doesn’t offer any credits for the score. However, LSU accepts AP Calculus AB scores of 3, 4 and 5, and offers both placement and credit for each score. Therefore, it is crucial that you do a background check on your college’s AP policies well ahead of time. Visit the official College Board website to conduct an AP credit policy search on the institution of your choice to determine what AP scores the institution accepts.

AP Exam Score Distribution

If you’re thinking of taking one or more AP exams, getting an idea of how students have scored on the AP exams over the past few years can help you figure out which subjects might be easy or difficult for you. A score of 3 or higher is considered the passing score for AP exams. Below is a list of AP exam passing rates for the last three years for every subject to help you choose the right one!

Course Average Passing Rates (2019 - 2022)
AP Research78.1%
AP Seminar83.7%
AP 2-D Art and Design87.4%
AP 3-D Art and Design72.6%
AP Art History62.1%
AP Drawing88.7%
AP Music Theory63.9%
AP English Language and Composition57.4%
AP English Literature and Composition57.8%
AP Comparative Government and Politics69.3%
AP European History57.6%
AP Human Geography53.4%
AP Macroeconomics56.0%
AP Microeconomics63.6%
AP Psychology61.8%
AP United States Government and Politics52.9%
AP United States History51.9%
AP World History57.3%
AP Calculus AB56.5%
AP Calculus BC78.0%
AP Computer Science A67.9%
AP Computer Science Principles69.6%
AP Statistics59.3%
AP Biology65.2%
AP Chemistry57.7%
AP Environmental Science51.7%
AP Physics 145.3%
AP Physics 268.1%
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism71.4%
AP Physics C: Mechanics57.8%
AP Chinese Language and Culture87.8%
AP French Language and Culture75.6%
AP German Language and Culture68.6%
AP Italian Language and Culture70.5%
AP Japanese Language and Culture77.4%
AP Latin61.4%
AP Spanish Language and Culture85.1%
AP Spanish Literature and Culture68.8%

Overall, AP exam passing rates reveal a success rate of more than 50% in every subject with minor exceptions like AP Physics 1. AP courses and exams are challenging, but the reward of passing is worth the hard work and effort! If you are curious to know how other students performed on the 2022 AP exams, here’s a list for that as well!

CourseTotal Test takersAP Success Rates 20225s4s3s2s1s
AP Research26,94782.6%12.6%25.8%44.2%13.4%4.0%
AP Seminar56,76688.3%12.3%20.6%55.4%10.8%0.9%
CourseTotal Test takersAP Success Rates 20225s4s3s2s1s
AP 2-D Art and Design37,04586.7%10.9%35.5%40.3%12.8%0.5%
AP 3-D Art and Design5,37773.6%6.5%28.6%38.5%23.8%2.6%
AP Art History20,97061.3%14.1%20.5%26.7%27.1%11.6%
AP Drawing19,21088.5%14.7%38.3%35.5%10.2%1.3%
AP Music Theory15,59461.8%18.6%17.6%25.6%24.0%14.2%
CourseTotal Test takersAP Success Rates 20225s4s3s2s1s
AP English Language and Composition520,77155.5%10.2%21.0%24.3%30.0%14.5%
AP English Literature and Composition339,40177.8%16.6%27.2%34.0%14.3%7.9%
CourseTotal Test takersAP Success Rates 20225s4s3s2s1s
AP Comparative Government and Politics20,94969.4%15.0%23.8%30.6%17.1%12.8%
AP European History80,15258.6%13.3%20.9%24.4%29.9%11.5%
AP Human Geography221,81553.1%14.7%18.7%19.7%15.1%31.9%
AP Macroeconomics134,41350.6%15.3%19.7%15.6%15.5%34.0%
AP Microeconomics84,38657.0%16.0%22.1%18.9%17.6%25.3%
AP Psychology292,50158.4%16.9%22.3%19.2%13.1%28.5%
AP United States Government and Politics298,11848.9%12.1%10.9%25.9%25.7%25.4%
AP United States History456,52048.2%10.7%15.6%21.9%23.0%28.7%
AP World History314,71612.9%21.7%27.2%23.8%14.4%12.9%
CourseTotal Test takersAP Success Rates 20225s4s3s2s1s
AP Calculus AB268,35255.4%20.2%16.1%19.1%22.7%22.0%
AP Calculus BC120,23874.3%38.8%15.5%20.5%16.6%6.5%
AP Computer Science A77,75366.8%26.5%20.3%20.0%10.4%22.8%
AP Computer Science Principles134,65168.6%12.1%23.0%33.5%19.7%11.7%
AP Statistics216,96859.9%14.3%21.1%23.5%16.7%23.4%
CourseTotal Test takersAP Success Rates 20225s4s3s2s1s
AP Biology237,33867.8%14.8%23.1%29.9%21.7%10.5%
AP Chemistry124,78052.7%11.4%16.5%24.8%24.2%23.1%
AP Environmental Science179,95753.9%9.0%27.4%17.5%25.9%20.2%
AP Physics 1144,52642.3%7.4%16.8%18.1%27.5%30.2%
AP Physics 217,84268.7%15.1%17.8%35.8%24.7%6.6%
Physics C E&M19,97868.8%30%24.5%14.3%18.3%12.9%
Physics C Mech.46,30173.6%25.3%26.8%21.5%15.8%10.6%
CourseTotal Test takersAP Success Rates 20225s4s3s2s1s
AP Chinese Language and Culture15,27784.4%45.3%19.7%19.4%6.2%9.4%
AP French Language and Culture19,55471.0%12.2%23.6%35.2%22.9%6.1%
AP German Language and Culture4,45063.3%17.6%18.2%27.5%24.4%12.3%
AP Italian Language and Culture2,19468.4%19.9%19.7%28.8%19.8%11.8%
AP Japanese Language and Culture2,76572.7%45.8%10.1%16.8%8.1%19.2%
AP Latin4,83256.9%11.1%16.0%29.8%24.5%18.6%
AP Spanish Language and Culture155,93182.0%23.5%28.6%29.9%14.9%3.1%
AP Spanish Literature and Culture23,0097.4%22%33.8%24.5%12.3%7.4%

The AP score distribution helps you understand the scoring trends for every subject. These trends usually indicate the difficulty of an AP subject on average. Based on the data, you can get an idea if a particular subject is your cup of tea! Having said this, persistence, grit, aptitude and your learning habits determine your success on an AP exam more than any other aspect. If you are interested in finding out more about AP courses or need help finding the right course for you, UWorld is here to help you!

We just made AP exams easier to master!
Illustration of mosquito on held on water by surface tension from UWorld's AP course
Painting of a battle during the Hatian revolution from UWorld's AP course
Illustration of the human brain after sight loss from UWorld's AP course

Frequently Answered Questions (FAQs)

This depends entirely on the college. As such, there are no clear-cut ‘passing-marks’ for the AP exam. Every college has its own criteria for admission and recognition of your AP score. However, as a rule of thumb, an AP score 3 and above is considered a passing score and can earn you a recommendation, and scores of 1 and 2 are considered a ‘failing’ grade. However, some colleges like Harvard and Princeton only accept a 4 or a 5. Be sure to ask your prospective college about their AP standards.

The average score of each AP exam depends on the subject. The average or mean score range from 2.5 to 3.6 for all AP exams.

Usually, a 70 to 75 percent out of 100 translates to a 5 in the AP score.

AP exams are never scored on a curve. To prevent this said ‘curve’ from occurring, The College Board ensures that AP scores are calculated specifically to reflect consistency in scoring from year to year.

AP scores are posted online on the AP student website. You can access them through your College Board account. After logging into your account, input your AP number or the student ID number you used on your AP answer sheet to get your score.

Whether you can access your AP exam scores earlier than other students is debatable. The College Board won’t release your AP scores early for any reason. However, if you had authorized the College Board to send in your AP scores to prospective colleges at the time of ordering your exam, they would send your scores a couple of hours earlier than releasing them officially. In that case, you could access your college profile to access your scores earlier than usual.

Don’t fall for any third-party websites that claim to give you your scores earlier than the scheduled date and time.

You, the college or university you designated in My AP, and educators in your school and district, including your AP teachers, will automatically receive your scores once they’re released.

Most renowned colleges and universities do look at your AP exam scores to assess your eligibility for the particular course and/or give you college credit.

AP exam scores are released each year in July.

You can access your AP scores by logging into your College Board account. You can visit the AP Scores for Students section to download an unofficial soft-copy of your scores. However, this copy is for your personal reference only and it cannot be used for sending to colleges for credit or placement related purposes.

To send an official score report to a college or university, you can sign in to AP Scores for Students to order one ($15/report). The College Board will send an official score report to the college on your request.

While good AP scores are always desirable, a low score will not affect your chances for admittance into college.

The 2022 AP exam scores were released on July 5th, Tuesday.

To cancel your AP scores for the exams administered in 2022, you must fill out the AP Score Cancellation form available on the College Board website and submit it to your nearest AP coordinator. Alternatively, you can also mail or fax the duly filled form to:

AP Services
P.O. Box 6671
Princeton, NJ 08541-6671
Fax: 610-290-8979

To ensure that the institution you selected does not receive your score, AP Services must get your request by June 15, 2022.


Total Registration: 2020 AP Exam Score Distributions
Crux Research Inc.: Unpublished institutional research
College Board: AP Student Score Distribution

Read More About AP Exams

Are you planning to take AP exams? Learn about when you should start taking them, know what AP courses are difficult, how many courses you need to take, and the benefits of taking AP classes.

Are you getting ready for the upcoming AP Exams? Here’s everything you need to know about the AP Exam, including how to register, who may take it, and how much it costs.

All about AP courses! This is your guide to the hardest and the easiest AP courses. From AP classes, to courses and their benefits, we help you choose the right AP courses to boost your career!

Stay up-to-date with the latest AP Exam policies, guidelines and accommodations. This is your ultimate guide to AP Exam policies and accommodations to make your exam day hassle-free!

Make a smart study-plan for your AP Exams! Here’s everything you need to know about the AP exam schedule and late-testing dates. Learn about the upcoming AP exam calendar and schedule.

Ace your AP Exams using this step-by-step guide from our expert educators. Active learning, detailed explanations, flashcards and many more smart ways to boost your AP prep!

Scroll to Top