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What's the AP Exam Grading Scale?

Instructor: Andrea Losa
The AP Exam grading scale demonstrates a student's ability to complete college-level coursework to prospective colleges and universities. Read on to learn about the grading scale, how AP Exams are scored, and how the scores may be utilized in the college enrollment process.

AP Exam Grading Scale

AP Exams are scored on a scale of 1-5. An AP Exam score combines the scores received in the multiple-choice and open-ended sections of the exam. These scores tell the colleges and universities who receive them how well a student performed in a college-level AP course. A score of 1 indicates 'no recommendation' while a score of 5 translates to 'extremely well qualified.' A score of 3 is the minimum required to demonstrate you are 'qualified' to successfully complete an introductory college course in the given subject.

Scoring for AP Music Theory and AP Calculus BC Exams

The AP Calculus BC Exam features a subscore, also scored on the 1-5 grading scale, that evaluates a student's performance on Calculus AB concepts found in the exam. The subscore can tell colleges and universities more about a student's qualifications in the subject.

The AP Music Theory Exam contains subscores for both the aural and nonaural sections of the exam. Each section is scored on the 1-5 scale. The subscores give music departments additional insight into a student's particular musical knowledge and skills and provide them the information they need to make determinations about awarding credit or assigning particular courses.

How the AP Exams Are Scored

The score you receive on an AP Exam is a combination of your multiple-choice score and open-ended section score, which has been converted to a score on the 1-5 scale through certain mathematical processes. The multiple-choice questions are scored by a computer, with the score being equal to the number of correct responses. Highly qualified college professors and AP teachers complete the scoring of the open-ended section of the exam.

Receiving College Credit for AP Exam Scores

If you are seeking credit or placement for any AP Exam scores, you must ensure that the colleges and universities in which you're interested receive copies of your official AP score report. You may select one college or university to receive a score report on your exam answer sheet, and you can send your scores to multiple institutions from your official CollegeBoard online account for additional fees.

Policies on granting placement or credit on the basis of AP Exam scores vary by institution. Most colleges and universities, however, will provide credit for scores of 3 or more, though not all colleges and universities accept all AP Exam scores. To determine which scores your prospective college or university will accept, visit the official CollegeBoard AP website to conduct an AP credit policy search on the institution.

Preparing for AP Exams with Study.com

Study.com offers many courses that will help you prepare for your AP Exams. You can conveniently complete the courses from a computer, tablet or smartphone. In these courses, you'll find engaging video lessons and transcripts along with practice exams and quizzes.

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

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