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Average AP Scores: What to Expect

Average AP Scores for Every AP Exam

You may be waiting for your results or might be confused about which subject to take for AP classes.

The simple answer would be to choose a few subjects according to your liking and score well with them, but it ain’t that easy when it comes to practice. To help you analyze a little better we have curated the necessary stats that might help you filter your choices.

What is AP?

AP or Advanced Placement Tests are standardized exams offered by the US college board to high school students like you, to assess how well you can understand the content and abilities of a given AP course.

Most AP classes include a final paper-and-pencil test (in May)which includes both MCQs and free-response sections, but a few subjects have other approaches to assess what you’ve studied, such as AP Art & Design, which requires students to present a portfolio of work for grading.

Teams of AP teachers and college professors prepare and grade AP exams.

Also Read: Why should you take AP tuition classes at Tychr

Why should one take AP?

In short, most universities in the United States give credit, advanced placement, or both for qualified AP scores. The test shows that you have pushed and challenged yourself in high school which might come out as impressive to the admission officers. 

  • Persuade college demands: They may not necessarily give you credits but you might earn an opportunity to go straight away into specialized classes by skipping the minor ones.
  • College credits: Several institutions give you credits for your scores which will help you to take only fewer courses in college than the rest of your peers, given the cost of tuition fees this may help you save a lot of money.
  • Admissions: Another major plus point in taking these classes is when it comes to college admissions, AP classes are pretty advanced than what is taught in high school. This may help you portray your strength in a way that convinces the college that you are prepared for higher levels of classes.

Colleges employ AP scores in various ways, therefore you must visit the website of a specific college to see how it uses AP scores.

Average AP scores for 2021

AP scores differ most of the time, especially for the past few years, the pandemic had contributed a huge difference in this. For a better idea, it would be advised to check out 2020 and previous year’s papers.

The table below shows the 2021 average scores.

Keep in mind that AP is scored on a 1 – 5 scale, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, a minimum of 3 is required for qualifying for the exam.

Exam Name Average Score
Chinese Language and Culture (Total Group) 4.09
Japanese Language and Culture (Total Group) 3.92
Physics C: Mechanics 3.87
Spanish Language and Culture (Total Group) 3.86
Calculus BC 3.84
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism 3.68
Art and Design: Drawing 3.59
French Language and Culture (Total Group) 3.57
Spanish Language and Culture (Standard Group) 3.53
Art and Design: 2-D Design 3.49
German Language and Culture (Total Group) 3.49
French Language and Culture (Standard Group) 3.40
Gov. and Politics – Comparative 3.34
Microeconomics 3.28
Music Theory 3.28
Computer Science A 3.26
Spanish Literature 3.25
Italian Language and Culture (Total Group) 3.24
Psychology 3.22
Physics 2 3.20
Research 3.20
German Language and Culture (Standard Group) 3.19
Art and Design: 3-D Design 3.18
Japanese Language and Culture (Standard Group) 3.17
Chinese Language and Culture (Standard Group) 3.16
Art History 3.15
Latin 3.10
Computer Science Principles 3.09
Calculus AB 3.07
Macroeconomics 3.07
Italian Language and Culture (Standard Group) 3.06
Seminar 3.06
Biology 3.04
English Language and Composition 2.96
European History 2.95
Statistics 2.95
World History 2.88
Environmental Science 2.85
Gov. and Politics – United States 2.85
English Literature and Composition 2.84
United States History 2.83
Chemistry 2.76
Human Geography 2.75
Physics 1 2.65

Source: College Board

Total Group: Total test-takers

Standard Group: Test-takers who aren’t fluent in that language

  1. No recommendation
  2. Possibly qualified
  3. Qualified
  4. Well qualified
  5. Extremely well qualified

But there is a catch to this table, do not rely completely on this table while choosing the subjects. The subjects in the top with the highest average marks aren’t necessarily told to be the easiest.

In actuality, some are actually ranked to be the hardest. Similarly, the ones that have the lowest average scores are probably some of the easiest of all.

The fact that most students end up studying more for tough subjects and less for the easier ones could be the reason for such a variation. Go for your intuitions in such cases, listen to your guts, and proceed with the appropriate one for you.

AP scores for Ivy League

You may be considering which AP classes are the simplest, but you really should go for more difficult courses to prove that you are a good learner.

Ivy league has the greatest competitors, therefore scoring the highest possible marks seems to be the only way to ace in the competition. Taking those difficult AP classes, earning the highest marks, and acing your AP exams for each topic will position you for victory when applying to Ivy League colleges.

This means you may have to get 5 to be sure of your seat, to the least 4, but that would also make you rank less in comparison to others. You should bear in mind that if you do well enough in your AP class but poorly on your AP test, the Ivy League may conclude that your institution has grade inflation. So, make sure to take up both your exam and classes well.

Finally, you must also confirm just how much AP credit your Ivy League institution accepts.

For example

Here is a table that shows AP scores for Harvard 

AP Art History 5 8
AP English Language and Composition 5 4
AP English Literature and Composition 5 8
AP European History 5 8
AP Macroeconomics 5 4
AP Microeconomics 5 4
AP Psychology 5 4
AP United States History 5 8
AP Calculus AB* 5 4
AP Calculus BC* 5 8
AP Statistics 5 4
AP Biology 5 8
AP Chemistry 5 8
AP Physics B* 5 8
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism* 5 4
AP Physics C: Mechanics* 5 4
AP Chinese Language and Culture 5 8
AP French Language and Culture 5 8
AP German Language and Culture 5 8
AP Italian Language and Culture 5 8
AP Japanese Language and Culture 5 8
AP Latin 5 4
AP Spanish Language and Culture* 5 8
AP Spanish Literature and Culture* 5 8

In order to be eligible for Advanced Standing, incoming students who have taken AP examinations must complete a total of 32 credits.  Credits are obtained by achieving a 5 on at least four AP examinations.

Also Read: Why Should You Take AP Computer Science Principles?

Harvard awards 4 or 8 credits for each qualifying AP test, according to whether the exam covers a semester or a full year of content.

These credits change according to universities, if this seems too high you may as well check on UC Berkeley’s AP score requirements and their respective credits. Berkeley demands a score of 3 or higher to earn subject credits, graduation credits, or general credits.

Hope this helps you to target the score for your subject and make sure you put effort into it.

All the best in choosing the right one for you!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What is the average AP score for AP exams?

A: The average AP score for AP exams varies depending on the subject. The College Board reports that the national average AP score for all exams taken is typically around 3, with some subjects having slightly higher or lower averages.

Q2: What is a good AP score?

A: A good AP score is typically considered to be a 3 or higher, which can qualify a student for college credit or advanced placement. However, the definition of a good score can vary depending on individual circumstances and college requirements.

Q3: Can you pass an AP exam with a score of 2?

A: While a score of 2 technically qualifies as “possibly qualified” for college credit, it is not considered a passing score for most colleges and universities. It is generally recommended to aim for a score of 3 or higher to increase the chances of receiving credit.

Q4: What happens if you fail an AP exam?

A: Failing an AP exam means that the student did not receive a score of 3 or higher, and therefore does not qualify for college credit or advanced placement. However, the score does not appear on the student’s official college transcript and does not affect their GPA.

Q5: Can you retake an AP exam if you are not satisfied with your score?

A: Yes, students are allowed to retake AP exams if they are not satisfied with their score. However, there may be additional costs and registration deadlines to consider, and it is important to prepare and study effectively for the retake exam to improve the chances of a higher score.

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