What do AP Test Scores Mean for College-Bound Students?


Scores for this spring’s Advanced Placement exams became available at 5 am EDT today. Students may go to www.apscore.org to log in and find out their score(s).  Scores range from 1-5, which may roughly be thought of in terms of letter grades with a 5 equivalent to an “A” and a 1 equal to an “F”.

Almost no college will accept a score of 1 or 2 to qualify for any college credits. Many selective colleges will not consider a 3 either. Most colleges will give college credit for a “4” or “5”, but that varies from college to college and from department to department.

Of course colleges have the final say on AP scores and qualifying college credit, but here is a sampling of what you may expect:

Penn State

  • 4 credits for a 4 or 5 on the Biology AP exam

  • 3 credits for a 4 or 5 on the US Government and Politics AP exam

  • 3 credits for a 5 on the Psychology AP exam

  • 4 or more credits for a grade of 4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP exam
Temple University

  • 8 credits for a 3 or higher on the Biology AP exam

  • 3 credits for a 4 or 5 on the US Government and Politics AP exam

  • 3 credits for a 3 or higher on the Psychology AP exam

  • 8 credits for a 4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP exam
University of Delaware

  • 4 or more credits for a 3 and higher on the Biology AP exam

  • 3 or more credits for a 3 and higher on the US Government and Politics AP exam

  • 3 credits for a 4 or 5 on the Psychology AP exam

  • 4 or more credits for a 3 and higher on the Chemistry AP exam
Boston University

  • 4 or more credits for a 4 or 5 on the Biology AP exam

  • 4 credits for a 4 or 5 on the US Government and Politics AP exam

  • 4 credits for a 4 or 5 on the Psychology AP exam

  • 8 credits for a 4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP exam
University of Oregon

  • 12 credits for a 4 or 5 on the Biology AP exam

  • 4 credits for a 3 or higher on the US Government and Politics AP exam

  • 4 or more credits for a 3 or higher on the Psychology AP exam

  • 12 credits for a 4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP exam
While earning college credit (and thereby saving money!) is a good reason to take AP courses and their corresponding exams, there are several other reasons college-bound students should take AP classes if their high school offers them:

  • demonstrates a rigorous course-load to colleges admissions officers
  • prepares students for college-level work and expectations
  • gives more flexibility in choosing college electives
  • allows the opportunity to pursue a second major or a minor in the same 4 year time frame
May you find 3's, 4's and 5's when you look for your online AP scores today. If you find a 1 or 2, don't despair. You need not report all of your scores to colleges, and college admissions officers do look favorably upon applicants who take AP courses during their high school experience.