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AP Research and Reports

To help you make informed decisions about your institution’s AP policies, we offer original outcomes research as well as opportunities to study your own AP students:

We can provide reports on your institution’s AP data, and tools for conducting your own research.

We regularly conduct research studies to investigate college outcomes for AP students.

Research on AP

 

Authors:

Krista D. Mattern, Jessica P. Marini, Emily J. Shaw

Source:

College Board Research Report 2013-5

Description:

This study examined the role of AP Exam participation and performance on four-year college graduation in four years. Two national samples were used to study both persistence and graduation within an institution and across institutions.

Findings:

Students who took one or more AP Exams, regardless of what score was earned, were more likely to graduate from college in four years compared to non-AP students even when controlling for prior academic achievement, demographic variables and school-level variables.


Authors:

Brian F. Patterson and Maureen Ewing

Source:

College Board Research Report 2013-2

Description:

This study evaluated whether the AP Exam scores associated with 10 courses were valid for the placement of students into the subsequent college course related to the exam. The specific AP Exams examined were: Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Biology, Chemistry, Physics C: Mechanics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Psychology, U.S. Government and Politics, and U.S. History.

Findings:

For all AP subjects studied, examinees performed the same as, or better than, non-AP students in the subsequent college course related to their AP exam — even after controlling for prior academic achievement and demographic variables.


Exploring the Utility of Advanced Placement Participation and Performance in College Admission Decisions (2012)

Authors:

Emily J. Shaw, Krista D. Mattern, and Jessica P. Marini

Source:

Educational and Psychological Measurement

Description:

This study evaluated the incremental validity of different Advanced Placement (AP) exam and course variables, above relevant demographic and academic variables, in predicting first-year grade point average (FYGPA) to better understand the role of AP in college admission decisions.

Findings:

Holding constant SAT and HSGPA, the mean FYGPA increases as the average AP scores increases, indicating that average AP score contributes to our understanding of FYGPA above and beyond SAT and HSGPA as evidenced by the upward sloping lines in the figure below. Average AP score was the strongest AP predictor related to FYGPA compared to AP exam count, number of AP courses offered at HS, AP scores >= 3, AP high score, and AP low score.


Authors:

Krista D. Mattern, Emily J. Shaw and Maureen Ewing

Source:

College Board Research Report 2011-6

Description:

This study examined whether students who take an AP Exam in a certain content domain are more likely to major in that domain than students who did not take an AP Exam in that area, controlling for relevant student characteristics.

Findings:

Students who took an AP exam in a particular content area were more likely to major in a related discipline in college than students who did not take an AP exam in that content area even when taking into account relevant student characteristics and prior academic achievement.  The effect was generally strongest for STEM majors.


Authors:

Brian F. Patterson, Sheryl Packman and Jennifer L. Kobrin

Source:

College Board Research Report 2011-4

Description:

This study examined the effects of AP exam participation and performance on college grades for courses taken in the same subject area as students’ AP Exam(s). Students’ first-year college subject area grade point averages (SGPAs) were examined in nine subject areas: mathematics, computer science, engineering, natural science, social science, history, English, world language, and art and music.

Findings:

For seven out of nine subject areas, students with a mean AP Exam grade of 3 or better significantly outperformed non-AP examinees in the relevant subject area — even after controlling for prior academic achievement, demographic variables, and school-level variables.


Authors:

Jeffrey N. Wyatt and Krista D. Mattern

Source:

College Board Research Report 2011-9

Description:

This study examines college outcomes of low-SES students who took an AP Exam and received a fee reduction compared to students of a similar background who took no AP Exams. Students were classified as low-SES if they reported that their annual household income was $30,000 or less.

Findings:

Students who completed an AP Exam using a College Board–issued fee reduction had higher four-year college-going rates, retention rates, and FYGPA than did their non-AP peers. These results held generally even when disaggregated by demographic variables (gender, ethnicity, parental income, or parental education) or by academic variables (high school GPA or SAT score).


Authors:

Daniel Murphy and Barbara Dodd

Source:

College Board Research Report 2009-6

Description:

This study compared the college performance of three groups of AP Exam takers – those who earned course credit, did not earn course credit, or earned course credit but elected to take the entry-level college course – to three groups of non-AP student groups, matched on SAT scores and high school rank in 10 AP subject areas. In addition, the performance of the AP groups was also compared to matched groups of students who were concurrently enrolled in a college course in the same subject area as the AP students. Students’ records for four entering classes (1998–2001) at the University of Texas at Austin were analyzed. The college outcome measures included first and overall credit hours taken, first and overall GPAs, and subject area credit hours and GPAs. In addition, sequent course grades were analyzed in those subject areas where there was a required sequent course.

Findings:
  • AP students who earn course credit based upon their AP Exam scores consistently outperform their matched non-AP group on most of the college outcome measures.
  • AP students take significantly more credit hours their first year than the concurrently enrolled non-AP students.

Authors:

Krista Mattern, Emily Shaw and Xinhui Xiong

Source:

College Board Research Report 2009-4

Description:

This study examines the relationship between students’ performance on four AP Exams and their subsequent college success. For each AP Exam studied, students were divided into three groups according to their AP Exam performance. Subsequent college success was measured by students’ first-year college grade point average (FYGPA), retention to the second year, and institutional selectivity.

Findings:

Students earning a 3 or higher on the AP exam were more likely to attend selective institutions, earned higher first year GPAs, and had higher retention rates into the 2nd year of college than non-AP students of similar ability.


Authors:

Linda Hargrove, Donn Godin and Barbara G. Dodd

Source:

College Board Research Report 2008-3

Description:

This study examined four-year college outcomes of students who participated in AP compared to students who did not. Outcomes examined were college performance and graduation across AP courses and separately for seven courses. Outcomes were compared across students who varied by three types of AP (course only, exam only, and both course and exam) and two types of non-AP (dual enrollment only and other course only) experiences in high school.

Findings:
  • Students who earned a 3 or higher on the AP exam earned higher GPAs (1st year, 4th year) in college than non-AP students — even after controlling for prior academic achievement and socioeconomic status.
  • Students in the AP course and exam group had a fourth-year graduation rate that was 5% to 17% higher than the non-AP students depending on the AP exam. This study controlled for prior academic achievement and socioeconomic status.

Authors:

Leslie Keng and Barbara G. Dodd

Source:

College Board Research Report 2008-7

Description:

The study compared the performance of AP students to non-AP students in four entering classes (1998–2001) at the University of Texas at Austin on the following outcome measures: first-year credit hours and GPA, subject or subject area credit hours and GPA, overall college credit hours and GPA, and sequent course grades. Ten individual AP Exams were examined. The four main groups of students compared included AP students who earned credit using their AP Exam scores, AP students who did not earn credit, non-AP students who were concurrently enrolled in a college-level course while in high school, and non-AP students who were matched on high school academic achievement to the students who earned credit for AP scores.

Findings:

For each of the 10 individual AP Exam subjects, students who earned credit through AP consistently outperformed non-AP students of similar academic ability in all college outcome measures.


Authors:

Rick Morgan and John Klaric

Source:

College Board Research Report 2007-4

Description:

This study examined five-year college outcomes of students who took AP Exams compared to students who did not. Outcomes examined were performance in subsequent course work, graduation rates, and college major.

Findings:

In most AP subjects, students who earned a 3 or higher on one or more AP Exams, performed the same as or better than, non-AP students in the intermediate-level college course related to their AP exam — even after controlling for prior achievement.


Authors:

Chrys Dougherty, Lynn Mellor, and Shuling Jian

Source:

National Center for Educational Accountability

Description:

This study examined the role of AP participation on college graduation in five years. Students were assigned to one of four categories based on their AP experience (scored a 3 or higher on AP exam, scored a 1-2 on AP exam, took course but no exam, did not take course or exam). Student ethnicity (African American, Hispanic, and white) and socioeconomic status (low-income versus non-low-income) were also taken into account.

Findings:

Students who earn a 3 or higher on one or more AP Exams are more likely to graduate from college in five years or less even when controlling for prior academic achievement, demographic variables and school-level variables.