AP® Exam Scores

Are you planning to take the AP® exam this May? Ever wondered how the AP exams get graded? Do you want to know how your AP scores can affect your chances of getting into college? Don't worry! This page will explain the AP scoring system and provide some assistance in understanding your score. We'll also show you how to access your AP exam scores.

How AP Exams Are 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 based on 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 (MCQs) and free-response questions (FRQs). 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®, producing 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.

Want to crack AP exams without working too hard?
Try active learning with UWorld. Easier, smarter, quicker.
Illustration of Artificial selection in strawberry plants

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. A machine scans your MCQ answer sheet, and a raw score is provided based on the number of correct answers.

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)

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 section is scored by readers at the annual AP reading 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 2024 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 to 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. The College Board never publishes your composite score. 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 shape decisions about your placement or how much college credit you are eligible for.

Turn AP stress into success!
Make UWorld your study partner.
Illustration and explanation of the English language concept “digression.”

What Are AP Scores Used for?

Your AP scores are a very important part of your 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. 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 can pursue 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 for admission into good colleges. Admissions officers and college faculty tend to view good scores in these core AP courses when assessing your application portfolio.
“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 subject during your freshman year. Since AP courses are equivalent to introductory 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 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 based on AP exam scores vary from institution to institution.

Struggling to juggle the workload in your AP classes?
Learn how to study efficiently with UWorld.
Image depicting salinization of soil through irrigation.

What AP Exam Scores Do Colleges and Universities Accept?

Most colleges and universities give credit for AP 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 varies from college to college. Below is an indicative table of what colleges usually accept AP scores for offering credits:

AP Exam Score Recommendation College Grade Equivalent 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 plus offers both placement and credit for each score. Therefore, it is essential that you 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, looking at how students scored on the AP exams over the past few years can help you figure out which subjects might require more test prep. 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
AP Research80.2%
AP Seminar84.7%
AP 2-D Art and Design 86.7%
AP 3-D Art and Design 73.18%
AP Art History 62.5%
AP Drawing 87.1%
AP Music Theory 63.2%
AP English Language and Composition57.8%
AP English Literature and Composition64.7%
AP Comparative Government and Politics 70.5%
AP European History 57.9%
AP Human Geography 54.7%
AP Macroeconomics 57.4%
AP Microeconomics 63.2%
AP Psychology 60.6%
AP United States Government and Politics 51.5%
AP United States History 50.4%
AP World History 59.8%
AP Calculus AB 56.4%
AP Calculus BC 77.4%
AP Computer Science A 67.5%
AP Computer Science Principles 67.4%
AP Statistics 59.4%
AP Biology 65.1%
AP Chemistry 58.8%
AP Environmental Science 52.8%
AP Physics 1 45.4%
AP Physics 2 69.2%
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism 70.7%
AP Physics C: Mechanics 76.2%
AP Chinese Language and Culture 87.4%
AP French Language and Culture 75.1%
AP German Language and Culture 67.5%
AP Italian Language and Culture 72.2%
AP Japanese Language and Culture 76.8%
AP Latin 59.9%
AP Spanish Language and Culture 83.9%
AP Spanish Literature and Culture 53.7%

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 how other students performed on the 2023 AP exams, here's a list for that as well!

Course Total Test takers AP Success Rates 2023 5s 4s 3s 2s 1s
AP Research 28,402 84.4% 13.3% 26.4% 44.7% 12.5% 3.1%
AP Seminar 73,334 85% 11.4% 19.7% 53.9% 11.2% 3.8%
Course Total Test takers AP Success Rates 2023 5s 4s 3s 2s 1s
AP 2-D Art and Design 43,854  83.6% 11.5% 31.5% 40.7% 14.4% 2%
AP 3-D Art and Design 7,505 72.1% 7.1% 25.2% 39.9% 23.5% 4.4%
AP Art History 24,624 64.6% 13.8% 23.8% 27% 23.8% 11.6%
AP Drawing 22,555 84.8% 15.7% 32.9% 36.1% 13.1% 2.1%
AP Music tdeory 17,834 60.7% 19.8% 16.9% 24% 24.1% 15.2%
Course Total Test takers AP Success Rates 2023 5s 4s 3s 2s 1s
AP English Language and Composition 562,328 56.1% 10.3% 19.7% 26.1% 29.5% 14.4%
AP English Literature and Composition 356,043 77.2% 14.9% 27.8% 34.5% 14.4% 8.4%
Course Total Test takers AP Success Rates 2023 5s 4s 3s 2s 1s
AP Comparative Government and Politics 23,611 70.8% 16.4% 23.2% 31.2% 16.2% 13%
AP European History 81,788 59.4% 12.9% 21.3% 25.2% 29% 11.6%
AP Human Geography 247,043 54.4% 16% 20% 18.4% 14% 31.6%
AP Macroeconomics 148,836 64.7% 17.1% 22.9% 24.7% 21.6% 13.7%
AP Microeconomics 94,772 68% 16% 22.1% 20.6% 19.9% 12.1%
AP Psychology 321,329 59.6% 16.9% 23.2% 19.5% 12.4% 28%
AP United States Government and Politics 329,132 49.2% 12.8% 11.3% 25.1% 24% 26.8%
AP United States History 467,975 47.5% 10.6% 14.8% 22.1% 22.7% 29.8%
AP World History 350,353 64.7% 15.3% 21.9% 27.4% 22.3% 13%
Course Total Test takers AP Success Rates 2023 5s 4s 3s 2s 1s
AP Calculus AB 273,987 58% 22.4% 16.2% 19.4% 21.7% 20.3%
AP Calculus BC 135,458 78.5% 43.5% 15.9% 19% 15.2% 6.3%
AP Computer Science A 94,438 68% 26.8% 22.4% 18.8% 9.5% 22.5%
AP Computer Science Principles 164,505 63.1% 11.5% 20.6% 31.1% 20.5% 16.4%
AP Statistics 242,929 60% 15.1% 22.2% 22.7% 16.2% 23.8%
Course Total Test takers AP Success Rates 2023 5s 4s 3s 2s 1s
AP Biology 239,470 64.4% 14.3% 23% 27.2% 23.6% 12%
AP Chemistry 139,448 75.1% 16% 27.1% 32% 16.9% 8%
AP Environmental Science 209,757 53.7% 8.3% 28.4% 17% 26.4% 19.9%
AP Physics 1 159,582 45.6% 8.8% 18.3% 18.5% 28% 26.4%
AP Physics 2 20,453 69.8% 16.5% 18.5% 34.9% 23.8% 6.4%
Physics C E&M 24,179 70.2% 33.6% 23.5% 13.1% 17.9% 11.9%
Physics C Mech. 55,602 73.5% 26.4% 26.3% 20.7% 14% 12.5%
Course Total Test takers AP Success Rates 2023 5s 4s 3s 2s 1s
AP Chinese Language and Culture 16,495 88.4% 54.2% 18.8% 15.4% 5% 6.6%
AP French Language and Culture 18,655 74.7% 13.2% 25.1% 36.4% 19.8% 5.5%
AP German Language and Culture 4,375 68% 21.8% 21.3% 24.9% 19.2% 12.8%
AP Italian Language and Culture 2,034 72.9% 23.2% 22.8% 26.9% 17.1% 10.1%
AP Japanese Language and Culture 3,089 76.9% 50.8% 8.6% 17.5% 8.2% 14.9%
AP Latin 4,533 56.7% 12.3% 16.5% 28% 24.9% 18.4%
AP Spanish Language and Culture 164,434 83.8% 24.3% 30% 29.6% 13.5% 2.7%
AP Spanish Literature and Culture 22,860 67.4% 8.5% 23.3% 35.6% 22.5% 10.1%

The AP score distribution helps you understand the scoring trends for every subject. These trends usually indicate the average difficulty of an AP subject. Based on the data, you can gauge whether a particular subject is your cup of tea! Having said this, persistence, grit, aptitude, and 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!

Your Fastest Path to Success
We make really hard stuff easy to understand. Study smarter with UWorld.
Visual illustration of mutually beneficial trade between countries


  1. AP Score Reporting Services – AP Students | College Board. (n.d.). https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/score-reporting-services 
  2. Student Score Distributions* AP Exams - May 2020. (2020). reports.collegeboard.org. Retrieved January 2022, from https://reports.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/Student-Score-Distributions-2020_1.pdf 
  3. Student Score Distributions* AP Exams - May 2021. (2021). reports.collegeboard.org. Retrieved 2022, from https://reports.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/2021-ap-student-score-distributions_1.pdf 
  4. 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 
  5. 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 
  6. Crux Research Inc. (2007, March). 3 Reasons to Take AP Exams: Unpublished Research.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

There are no clear-cut ‘passing scores’ for the AP exam. Scoring between 3 to 5 may qualify you for credits in college and factor favorably in your admissions portfolio. Because each college has its own criteria for admission and policies for granting placement or credit for AP scores, be sure to check with your prospective college about their AP standards.
The average score of each AP exam varies by subject. The average or mean score ranges from 2.5 to 3.6 for all AP exams.
Usually, 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.

Many students wonder if they can get their AP exam scores early. The short answer is no; the College Board doesn’t allow scores to be released ahead of the official date. However, if you allow the College Board to send your scores directly to colleges, these institutions might receive them slightly earlier in the day. So, you might be able to see your scores through the college’s system before they show up on your College Board account.

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 look at your AP exam scores to assess your eligibility for a particular course and/or give you college credit. These scores may also contribute to your admissions decision.

AP exam scores are released each year in July.

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

To send an official score report to a college or university, 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 AP scores above 3 are always desirable, a low score will not affect your chances for admittance into college.

The 2023 AP exam scores were released on July 5.

To cancel your AP scores for the exams administered in 2023, 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, 2023.

Read More About the 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.
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!
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.
Are you getting ready for the upcoming AP exams? Here’s everything you need to know about the AP exam Registration, including how to register, who may take it, and how much it costs.
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!
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