Skip to Main Content

AP Exam Scores

AP Exam scores are a weighted combination of student scores on the multiple-choice and free-response sections.

The final score is on a five-point scale:

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

Setting AP Scores

Definitions of the knowledge and skills required to earn scores of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 on an AP Exam are derived from standard settings and college comparability studies. These processes ensure that AP Exam outcomes align with college faculty expectations. First, committees of college faculty who teach the comparable college course develop detailed descriptions of the performance required to earn each score — these are called achievement-level descriptors (ALDs).

During a standard-setting study, a panel of 15 faculty and teachers reviews the ALDs and determines how many questions a student would need to answer correctly at each ALD. These raw scores become the cut scores for each AP Exam score.

To conduct college comparability studies, the same committees administer portions of an AP Exam to students in their related college course; student AP scores are correlated to their final course grades. The results of both studies establish the standards and inform the cut scores for the relevant AP Exam.

Scoring the Exams

The multiple-choice sections of AP Exams are scored by computer. The free-response sections are scored each summer at the annual AP Reading by experienced AP teachers and college faculty who have experience teaching corresponding college courses. Approximately half of the Readers are college faculty. Readers are selected to ensure an appropriate balance among several factors, including school locale and setting, gender, race, ethnicity and years of teaching experience.

The Chief Reader for each exam — who develops scoring rubrics for free-response questions, oversees day-to-day scoring activities and selects Readers and Reading leadership — is always a college or university faculty member.

Readers undergo a rigorous training to ensure that they have a thorough understanding of the scoring rubrics.

AP Score Reporting Services for College

Students designate one college to receive their AP score report at the time of the exam. Designated colleges automatically receive paper reports in July. Colleges can also receive these data in the following formats by completing the College AP Score Reporting Services Order Form, sent to each college in the spring:

  • Internet Delivery of Scores
  • Score reports on CD and follow-up service

Learn more about score reporting and receive instructions on setting up a new mode of delivery.