female student taking an ap class online

With the increasing costs of higher education, Advanced Placement (AP) classes provide an economical alternative to earning college credits. AP classes are free for high school aged students, but there is a small fee to take the corresponding exam. While this fee may seem expensive, it is much cheaper than the cost of taking one college course.

Passing an AP exam can help students earn college credits and test out of introductory level college courses. This decreases the overall number of college courses required for graduation and demonstrates a student’s mastery of the material.

What about the AP test grading scale? Unlike other exams, AP exams are scored on a scale of one to five. Each score has a different meaning which may be confusing to interpret. We’ve created this blog post to help students better understand how AP exams are scored and what each score represents.

How AP Exams are Scored

AP exams are scored on a scale from one to five, with five being the highest score students can earn. Most colleges award credit for a score of three or more, but others may require a higher score. We recommend researching specific university AP exam score policies and requirements prior to taking the exam.

Knowing this score ahead of time can help students set realistic goals and better prepare for their exam. It can also inform students which colleges accept AP exam scores for credit, and which accept them for advanced placement.

Students may also see a recommendation alongside their AP exam score. This recommendation helps colleges gauge how prepared students are to successfully complete elementary-level college courses. Earning a five suggests a student is extremely qualified to complete introductory college courses while a one suggests they are unqualified.

We have compiled the following table to provide an in-depth understanding breakdown of each score, its recommendation, and grade equivalent.

AP Exam Score Recommendation College Course Grade Equivalent
5 Extremely Qualified A+, A
4 Very Well Qualified A-, B+, B
3 Qualified B-, C+, C
2 Possibly Qualified No Credit
1 Unqualified No Credit

Viewing & Sending AP Exam Scores

The College Board does its best to release scores in a timely manner. However, with thousands of students nationwide taking AP exams, it could take several weeks for scores to arrive. As such, it is normal for students who completed their exams in May to expect their scores around July.

Students can view their scores by logging into their College Board account and downloading the PDF report. This report includes scores for each AP test students have taken including scores earned on exams they retook. Students can ask the College Board to remove older scores to improve the report’s accuracy.

Students can send their exam scores to one college of their choosing at no cost to them. Those interested in sending their scores to multiple colleges are required to pay a small fee for each subsequent report.

Students may pay $15 for standard delivery or $25 for rush delivery. Scores sent using standard delivery are estimated to arrive within seven to fourteen business days. Scores sent using rush delivery are estimated to arrive within five to nine business days.

Ways to Prepare for AP Exams

AP exams cover one year’s worth of content which can be overwhelming for students. Preparing ahead of time can help reduce a student’s anxiety and increase positive score outcomes. Students may choose to prepare for their exams with independent study materials or with a tutor.

Independent Studies

The College Board offers various resources for students interested in independent AP exam preparations. It offers daily practice sessions, live review recordings, and videos which can be accessed at any time. Students can use these resources to become familiar with exam content and question types.

Self-study materials allow students more control over how and when they prepare for their exams. However, they may not provide the individualized feedback some students prefer.

Guided AP Exam Prep with C2

C2 Education is committed to helping students make the most of their AP exam scores. Our instructors are subject matter experts who can provide test taking tips, study tips, and more. Our students learn test taking and time management strategies as they work through their customized AP exam curriculum.

Each student’s curriculum is designed around their strengths and weaknesses to better serve their needs. This can help students measure their progress as they overcome academic challenges and reach their potential. It also allows students to progress on their timeline rather than keeping pace with their peers.

Tutors at C2 Education undergo a rigorous training process before working with students. They have demonstrated expertise in their fields of study and remain current with upcoming exam changes. This ensures students receive accurate guidance based on the current version of their AP exam.

At C2, we understand students may prepare for more than one AP exam. Our tutors help students find their ideal balance, so they can prepare for each exam without burning out. We help our students create a study schedule to work with their lives rather than disrupting it.

We offer programming focused on test-taking tips and tricks to better prepare students for success. Students can prepare for their exams with our AP Boot Camp or general AP Exam Prep program.

Next Steps

Earning high scores on AP exams can help a student’s college application stand out from the crowd. These scores may help determine if students are prepared for college as well as save them time and money. We suggest students interested in taking an AP exam begin preparing as soon as possible.

The College Board offers a variety of resources students can utilize for independent study. C2 Education is here to provide customized AP exam prep to help students make the most of their AP classes. C2 Education provides test prep materials and customized curriculum based on each student’s needs.

Check out our general AP Exam prep and AP Boot Camp programs to learn more. Ready to start preparing for the May AP exam today? Complete and submit this form to get started.