Featured Image

What You Need to Know About AP Tests, AP Scores, and Your Future College

With the release of AP test scores earlier this month, you might be wondering how the number on your report will impact your college future. Well, this is how!

Image via The Lion’s Roar Middletown High School North

For rising seniors, college applications and acceptances are never far away. No matter which school you're aiming for, everyone wants to secure their future and make sure their hard work in high schools pays off.

With the release of AP test scores earlier this month, you might be wondering how the number on your report will impact your college future. It's important to understand your score and its impact on your student profile before hitting the “send score report” button to your dream school.

Understand your AP test score

Perhaps one of the most confusing aspects of standardized testing is simply understanding your score. Is it good? Is it good enough? And with AP scores, is it good enough to earn those sweet, sweet (money-saving) college credits?

AP scores range from 1–5, with a 3 usually counting as a “passing” score. According to the College Board (which administers the test), the AP scoring scale means:

  • 5 = extremely well qualified
  • 4 = well qualified 
  • 3 = qualified 
  • 2 = possibly qualified 
  • 1 = no recommendation

(A 3 also typically equates to a score of 60%, a 4 is 70%, and a 5 is 85% or higher.) If you get a 3, 4, or 5, you will almost certainly be able to find a college that offers credit for your score. However, your chances of getting college credit for your AP score are much higher if you get a 4 or 5. Even if your score is a 1 or 2, all is not lost. If you would like to try to earn credit, you can retake the test next year!

Additionally, just because you passed with a 3 doesn't necessarily mean you'll be getting credit for score. Moderately to highly selective schools often require a 5 to test out of intro classes, while less selective schools are more likely to award credits for at a lower score.

AP tests and your college choices

First things first: although every college's admission policy is different, most US schools won’t use your AP scores in their admission decision. (However, if you’re thinking about applying to a college in the United Kingdom, many schools require scores of 4 or 5 on anywhere from two to eight AP tests!)

Now, that being said, colleges are always on the hunt for bright, motivated students. Having the initiative and drive to take challenging, high-level classes like AP courses makes you a more desirable member in any college community. So although colleges may not consider your AP scores, they will probably appreciate the fact that you took AP courses.

And AP tests can be helpful in your college search in other ways too. While you might not be decided on your major (and that's okay!), taking AP courses in an area that interests you can also benefit you in the long haul. For instance, if you think you might like to major in business, you could take AP Microeconomics or Computer Science Principles. Or if you think you want to go into medicine, AP Biology and Chemistry certainly won't hurt.

Don't let disappointment hold you back

If the little number on your AP score report was the dreaded 1 or 2, you might be wondering about your college options. First, it is important to remember that one test score doesn't define you or your accomplishments up to this point. Colleges will see that you challenged yourself and in the end that will pay off. However, if you’re really concerned about one or more of your AP test scores, College Board offers a score withholding option for $10 per test per school. (You can learn more about this and other score reporting options here.) If you choose this, colleges will see only the scores you wish them to see and have no indication that you ever took the test you're hiding. Just be aware that this option can get pricey and should be kept as a last resort.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
AP scores ap tests college admission

About Sophia Skwarchuk

Sophia Skwarchuk is a junior at Flathead High School in Kalispell, Montana. She is an active participant in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Model United Nations, track, and cross-country. She is Vice President of her school's National Honor Society chapter and volunteers weekly for Big Brothers Big Sisters. When she isn't busy pursuing her academic studies and extracurricular interests, she enjoys dabbling in the culinary arts and writing short stories.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Kelly Nogueiro

Kelly Nogueiro

Counselor

For me, CollegeXpress has given me a valuable tool to use with my students to explore colleges easily beyond objective data. It helps me find colleges for students that fit their needs and wants that aren’t quite so black and white. It's a wealth of knowledge, and the Type-A side of me loves all the lists and the fact that I know they're coming from folks who know what they're talking about. I share it with colleagues and students alike, and it's always well received.

Keydi Banegas

Keydi Banegas

Scholarship for Students of Color Winner, Class of 2022

CollegeXpress is a great application that helped me search for many different scholarships, and it narrows the scholarships depending on how you set your profile. Not only that, but it helps you choose different colleges to apply to by finding matches through the description of your profile. It was the best experience for me.

Emilie Delgado

Emilie Delgado

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2013

CollegeXpress has tremendously helped me in my search for financial aid opportunities as I enter my college career. It is easy to navigate and quickly narrowed down scholarships that I could apply for. Being awarded the scholarship will greatly help me in my finances regarding books and tuition. Thank you for this opportunity. Without CollegeXpress, it would have been more difficult to apply. I would recommend this site to everyone!

Rana Slosberg

Rana Slosberg

Slosberg College Solutions LLC

My favorite part of CollegeXpress is the 800+ lists which have all kinds of hard-to-find information. These lists are helpful when I’m creating college lists, and I also use them to give students a feel for a particular college or university.

Melanie Kajy

Melanie Kajy

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously during my senior year of high school. I started off using the college search to find more information about the universities I was interested in. Just this tool alone gave me so much information about a particular school. It was my one-stop shop to learn about college. I was able to find information about college tuition, school rank, majors, and so much more that I can't list it all. The college search tool has helped me narrow down which college I want to attend, and it made a stressful process surprisingly not so stressful. I then moved to the scholarship search tool to find scholarships to apply for because I can't afford to pay for tuition myself. The search tool helped me find scholarships that I was eligible for. The tool gave me all the information I could ever need about a particular scholarship that was being offered. The CollegeXpress scholarship search tool is so much better than other tools offered, like the Chegg scholarship search. Thanks to CollegeXpress, I was able to apply to tons of scholarships in a relatively easy way!

College Matches