In case you missed the email, the College Board rolled out Advanced Placement (AP®) scores for tests taken this past May earlier this month. And by now, most AP students should have already received their scores—for better or worse!
For the record, old fashioned snail mail reports were discontinued several years ago in favor of an online arrangement that requires you to have a College Board account to access scores. In other words, to obtain scores, students must have
- an online College Board account requiring registration
- a username and password
- 2017 AP number (the number on the labels in the Student Pack) OR student identifier (student ID number) if provided on your answer sheet
Unless there was a problem with identification, scoring or test administration, your scores should now be available and will be added to a cumulative report of all AP tests you have taken to-date (you actually have to pay an extra fee to have any scores removed from the report).
If you’re unlucky enough not to have a score report, feel free to contact the College Board at email@example.com or 888-225-5427 (toll free) or 212-632-1780, especially if you haven’t received scores by September 1.
And what do the scores mean? AP scores are a “weighted combination” of results on the multiple-choice and free-response sections. The final score is reported on a 5-point scale, as follows:
- 5: Extremely well qualified to receive college credit or advanced placement
- 4: Well qualified
- 3: Qualified
- 2: Possibly qualified
- 1: No recommendation
You can also think of the five-point scale in terms of letter grades, with 5 equating to an “A” and 1—well, you get the picture.
And what are they worth? The awarding of credit and placement status is determined by individual colleges or universities. You can check directly with the school or on the College Board website to research this information, but note that the latter is neither as specific nor as accurate as what you are likely to find on individual school websites.
In most cases, a student who scores a 4 or 5 may receive college credit. In rare cases, a school will require a 5, and almost no colleges will accept a score of 2. In fact, the most selective colleges will not accept a 3 for credit.
For example, George Mason University will accept a score of 3 for 4 credits in an entry-level environmental science class. For 8 credits, the student must earn a 4 or 5 on the exam. Neither Georgetown nor GW will award credit for any score below a 4. In fact, Georgetown awards no credit for AP Capstone, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Comparative Government, AP US History, AP Human Geography, and AP Physics 1 or 2.
The University of Virginia generally awards credit for scores of 4 or 5, but for French will dip as low as a 3 for some entry-level exemption. The University of Maryland takes a different approach and awards credit for scores of 3 or better in Art History, English Language and English Literature but requires at least a 4 to receive credit in a foreign language.
Keep in mind that wise use of AP credit can reduce the total number of credit hours needed to graduate. At Virginia Tech, students are allowed to use up to 38 hours of AP credit towards graduation, while Vanderbilt University will only award up to 18 credits. And Dartmouth College will accept no AP credits toward graduation.
AP exam scores may also be used to meet standardized test requirements in the admissions processes of several colleges. Fair Test keeps track of this evolving trend on its Test Score Optional List and includes Colby College, Colorado College, Drexel University, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, NYU and the University of Rochester among those colleges and universities allowing APs to be submitted in place of ACT/SAT scores.
Teachers and AP administrators will also be receiving scores this month, and many high schools include score distributions in the school profiles they send to colleges along with transcripts (see Montgomery Blair High School’s profile for a good example). This is so admissions offices can put individual scores reported on applications in context with those earned by others in your class. But note that some high schools are extremely reluctant to make this information public and will routinely deny requests from families interested in evaluating a particular class or teacher.
For those new to the process, the online reporting system seems like an efficient, environmentally-friendly way to get scores. But be aware. The College Board can now connect your AP scores with PSAT and SAT scores as well as any grade, career interest or family income information you provide in the course of test registration or on their net price calculators.
And the College Board is all about mining for data that can be sold to postsecondary institutions, scholarship programs, or any number of organizations willing to pay for lists it aggressively markets.
These connections can be both good and bad. If you haven’t graduated from high school, expect to receive recruitment materials from colleges purchasing name and contact information anxious to get to know you. At the same time, don’t be surprised to hear from questionable honor societies or other organizations hoping to con you into paying for something you don’t want.
Check back tomorrow for a sneak preview of AP test results as tweeted by College Board executive, Trevor Packer.