Average AP Scores for Every AP Exam (2023)

Average AP Scores for Every AP Exam (1)

Taking an AP class this year? You might be wondering about average AP scores or what good AP scores are for certain classes. Or if you are thinking about taking AP exams in the future, you might want to know which exams have the highest passing rates.

In this post, we will break down the average score for each AP test, as well as the average passing rate. We will also show you how to interpret this info and how to use it to make decisions about your schedule.

Average AP Score by Test

Instead of giving you an overall average score for all AP tests, we will show you the average score for every AP exam. We break it down by test because every AP test is different. It's important to know the average score for whichever test you are taking or thinking about taking.

Additionally, we’ll explain how--and why--the average AP scores look a little different in 2021. Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, AP exams were offered on paper and in schools, online and in schools, and online and in students’ homes. In order to accommodate the different exam formats and locations effectively, AP exams were also offered in three different sessions in 2021: session one was in early May, session two was in late May, and session three was in early June.

Though the 2021 AP exams were offered in multiple formats and testing locations, all exams were full-length, and the paper and digital versions of each exam were virtually the same. Nevertheless, these unprecedented changes inevitably impacted students’ AP scores. It’s important to be mindful of this context as you consider which AP exams you want to take and set goals for your AP scoring.

We will also explore how you can use this info—and learn why the exams with the highest passing rates are not the easiest!

But first, the data. The table below contains the national average scores for each AP exam from 2021. Remember that AP exams are scored from 1 to 5, with 3 and higher considered passing rates.

We have sorted the exams from highest average score to lowest. Take a look:

Exam Name

Average Score

Chinese Language and Culture (Total Group)4.11
Calculus BC3.62
Japanese Language and Culture (Total Group)3.61
Art and Design: Drawing3.51
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism3.45
Art and Design: 2-D Design3.42
Spanish Language and Culture (Total Group)3.41
Physics C: Mechanics3.38
Spanish Language and Culture (Standard Group)3.27
Italian Language and Culture (Total Group)3.27
Government and Politics - Comparative3.16
French Language and Culture (Total Group)3.13
Computer Science A3.12
Art and Design: 3-D Design3.09
German Language and Culture (Total Group)3.09
Italian Language and Culture (Standard Group)3.06
Physics 23.06
Music Theory3.04
French Language and Culture (Standard Group)3.01
Computer Science Principles2.99
Chinese Language and Culture (Standard Group)2.99
Spanish Literature2.92
English Language and Composition2.86
Art History2.84
European History2.82
Calculus AB2.77
German Language and Culture (Standard Group)2.75
World History2.71
Human Geography2.69
Environmental Science2.67
Japanese Language and Culture (Standard Group)2.64
Government and Politics - United States2.62
United States History2.52
English Literature and Composition2.47
Physics 12.41

Via College Board. For language rates, "Total Group" includes all students, while "Standard Group" includes only those students who didn't indicate they speak this language at home or spent more than four weeks studying it abroad. Check out the link for a complete distribution of scores for each AP exam.

(Video) AP Score Reaction 2020 (8 AP Scores)

One very important fact to note is that high average scores don't correspond to the easiest exams! Chinese,Calculus BC, Japanese, Drawing, and Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism are the AP tests with the highest average scores, but they are all known to be quite difficult. Also note that native speakers, or students with experience living abroad, tend to take the AP language exams, which inflates their average scores (for the average of those who learned in a classroom, check the "Standard" score).

Furthermore, some of the tests with the lowest averages are often regarded as some of the easiest APs—Human Geography, Environmental Science, and US Government. So why are their passing rates so low? This is because freshmen and sophomores might take these as their first-ever AP classes. Even though the content is easier than, say, Calculus, all AP exams are tough and could be hard for a younger student to do well on. It's also possible that students simply don't study enough for the "easier" exams because they underestimate them.

Moreover, the numbers show that, across the board, fewer students actually took AP exams in 2021 than they did in the previous year. This reduced number of AP test takers was due to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. But while fewer students took the AP exams in 2021, the percentage of students passing (earning a 3 or higher) actually increased in some AP courses. This is likely because students who felt less confident in their ability to pass AP exams opted out of taking the exams in 2021.

So what do the strange AP testing circumstances of 2021 mean for you? In general, it’s best to look at the average score numbers from 2021 and compare them with numbers from previous years. Doing this will give you a better idea of how the score distributions typically fall under normal circumstances and help you get a clearer picture of the difficulty levels of the AP exams you want to take.

Average AP Scores for Every AP Exam (2)

All AP tests are difficult, even if some are easier than others.

To sum up, the average score can say more about the students taking the exam than the exam itself. Don't sign up for BC Calculus just because the average score is super high. And by the same token, don't avoid AP Environmental Science because the average score is relatively low. Focus on your own strengths and interests when signing up for AP classes!

Looking for help studying for your AP exam?

Our one-on-one online AP tutoring services can help you prepare for your AP exams. Get matched with a top tutor who got a high score on the exam you're studying for!

Average AP Scores for Every AP Exam (3)

(Video) Roasting Every AP Class in 60 Seconds

What's a Good AP Score?

Beyond the basic averages, it's helpful to have some context about what a "good" AP score is. A score of 3 or higher is generally considered good, because that means you passed the exam! A 4 is considered very good, and a 5 is especially impressive since it is the highest score.

Also keep in mind that every college sets its own policy about AP credit. Some schools only give credit for scores of 4 or 5. Check the AP credit database to find out the AP credit policy for schools you're interested in.

But with that in mind, let's look at which 2021 AP exams have the highest passing rates—a.k.a. rates of scores over 3. We also note the percentage of students who get a 5, the highest score.

Exam NamePassing Rate (3+)5 Rate
Chinese Language and Culture (Total Group)88%57%
Art and Design: 2-D Design87%10%
Art and Design: Drawing86%14%
Spanish Language and Culture (Total Group)80%17%
Spanish Language and Culture (Total Group)77%13%
Calculus BC76%38%
Japanese Language and Culture (Total Group)74%48%
Physics C: Mechanics73%24%
Italian Language and Culture (Total Group)72%21%
Gov. and Politics - Comparative71%17%
Art and Design: 3-D Design71%7%
French Language and Culture (Total Group)71%13%
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism70%33%
Italian Language and Culture (Standard Group)69%12%
French Language and Culture (Standard Group)69%8%
Computer Science Principles67%12%
Chinese Language and Culture (Standard Group)66%19%
Computer Science A65%24%
German Language and Culture (Total Group)65%18%
Physics 265%15%
Spanish Literature61%8%
Music Theory60%20%
English Language and Composition57%9%
German Language and Culture (Standard Group)55%7%
European History55%11%
Art History55%12%
Japanese Language and Culture (Standard Group)54%16%
Human Geography52%14%
World History52%10%
Calculus AB51%18%
Gov. and Politics - United States51%12%
Environmental Science48%7%
United States History47%10%
English Literature and Composition44%5%
Physics 142%7%

Source: College Board. For language rates, "Total" includes all students, while "Standard" includes only those students who didn't indicate they speak this language at home or spent more than four weeks studying it abroad.

Again, note that some of the toughest exams—like Chinese and Physics C: Mechanics—have very high passing rates. Notice also the exams with very low 5 rates (below 10%), including Physics 1, English Literature, and Biology. It will look especially impressive if you can earn a 5 on these tests!

So Which AP Classes Should You Take?

The goal of taking an AP class is to get a good grade in it and also pass the AP test. Doing both of these things will show colleges that you can handle college-level material, and scoring high enough on the AP test can help you get college credit. You want to take AP classes you think you'll do well in. However, be careful about signing up for exams based on their average scores alone.

As we saw above, some of the toughest exams (like Physics, AB and BC Calculus, and many of the foreign languages) have the highest passing rates, and some of the easiest exams (like Environmental Science and Human Geography) have the lowest passing rates. This means you shouldn't sign up for AP classes based on just their passing rates.

Do some research before signing up for an AP class and make sure it's the right fit for you. Ask older classmates how difficult they've found certain AP classes. Also, think about your own academic strengths and the classes you enjoy the most. If you love math and have always been good at it, you can probably score well on an AP Calculus exam even though they're known for being difficult.

Average AP Scores for Every AP Exam (4)

Also be careful not to overload yourself! If you cram too many AP classes into your schedule, it will be harder to pass the exams.

Finally, note that these are the national averages. The passing rates for different subjects could be very different at your school. If you want to find out the passing rates for these classes at your school, talk to your guidance counselor and they can help you find that info. For example, some teachers have passing rates for their AP classes above 90%. If you have a teacher like that at your school, and they teach an AP subject you are interested in, you will likely have a very high chance of passing.

(Video) 2020 AP Score Reactions Online *9 ap scores*

One last word of advice: check out our scoring guide to see how AP scores are calculated to help you develop a target raw score to help you pass. Understanding how the exam is scored is a very important step in preparing for AP tests.

What's Next?

Learn about what AP Exams are like and how to avoid fatigue. Check out our guide on AP test length for exclusive tips!

Want help deciding which AP classes will be easiest for you to take? We will show you which factors to consider to find the easiest AP classes for your schedule.

Trying to decide between the ACT and SAT? Read our guide to decide which is best for you—and learn why it's best to just focus on one test.

Get tips on the SAT from our 1600 Full Scorer—you can also put the same techniques to use when studying for AP exams, especially the multiple choice sections!

Get advice on writing SAT and ACT essays. If you're going for perfection, you can even learn how to write a perfect SAT essay or a perfect ACT essay.

Average AP Scores for Every AP Exam (5)

Want to build the best possible college application?

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We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

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Average AP Scores for Every AP Exam (6)

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Average AP Scores for Every AP Exam (7)

Halle Edwards

About the Author

Halle Edwards graduated from Stanford University with honors. In high school, she earned 99th percentile ACT scores as well as 99th percentile scores on SAT subject tests. She also took nine AP classes, earning a perfect score of 5 on seven AP tests. As a graduate of a large public high school who tackled the college admission process largely on her own, she is passionate about helping high school students from different backgrounds get the knowledge they need to be successful in the college admissions process.

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(Video) 2022 AP Exam Scores (Freshman Year)


What is the average score for each AP exam? ›

The average or mean AP exam score for 2021 was 2.80.

What is the average pass rate for all AP exams? ›

AP Test Passing Rates

Most AP tests have a pass rate of around 60% or higher. The high score of 5 is rarer—usually between 10% and 20% of a test's scores.

Is a 70% a 5 on the AP exam? ›

Usually, a 70 to 75 percent out of 100 translates to a 5. However, there are some exams that are exceptions to this rule of thumb. The AP Grades that are reported to students, high schools, colleges, and universities in July are on AP's five-point scale: 5: Extremely well qualified.

Is 2 an ok AP score? ›

Students who earn AP scores of 2 are well prepared to succeed in introductory college coursework. Compared to academically similar college peers who did not take the AP course, AP students who earn scores of 2 perform as well or better when they take those introductory college courses.

Is 4 a good AP scores for Ivy League? ›

In terms of Ivy League and Top 20 schools, even a 4 is a relatively low score to earn on an AP exam. It is routine for Ivy League admissions officers to review applications from students who have scored 5s on multiple AP tests.

What is a 75% on an AP test? ›

AP Scale Grading
If you got a percentage of...If you got a raw score of... (For FINAL EXAM)And your AP score is...
9 more rows

What is the easiest AP exam to get a 5? ›

Top 10 Easiest AP Classes by Exam Pass Rate
  • Spanish Literature. 75.1% 17.6%
  • Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism. 74.4% 40.4%
  • Physics 2. 73.3% 14.0%
  • Computer Science Principles. 71.6% 10.9%
  • Psychology. 71.3% 22.4%
  • Computer Science A. 70.4% 25.6%
  • Comparative Government and Politics. 70.2% 24.4%
  • Music Theory.

Which AP is the easiest? ›

The Three Easiest AP Classes
  1. AP Psychology. With a reputation as one of the easiest AP classes, it comes as no surprise that AP Psychology is also one of the most popular—292,501 students took the exam in 2021. ...
  2. AP Comparative Government and Politics. ...
  3. AP Environmental Science.
Feb 9, 2023

What is the lowest AP pass rate? ›

All AP exams have a passing rate of at least 50%. The most failed AP exams are Physics 1 (failed by 48.4% of all students), Environmental Science (failed by 46.6% of all students), and Chemistry (failed by 43.9% of all students).

What is a 2 on an AP exam equivalent to? ›

Possibly qualified

What percent is a 1 on an AP exam? ›

The lowest possible score you can get on an AP exam, a 1 indicates that students were completely unfamiliar with the material. No U.S. colleges currently offer college credit for a score of 1. In some exams, earning a 1 is extremely rare, like in AP Studio Art, where only 1.1% of students earn a 1.

What is a 3 on the AP exam equal to? ›

As the table below shows, each AP exam is scored on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest possible score. In general, a 3 corresponds to a C grade, a 4 corresponds to a B, and a 5 corresponds to an A.

What if I get a 1 on an AP Exam? ›

In fact, on the AP® rubric, a 1 is described as “no recommendation”. Because of that, no college in the United States of overseas will accept an AP® score of 1 and give you college credit.

Should I send my AP scores if I got a 1? ›

If your exam score is eligible for credit, self-report it on the college application and send the official report through the CollegeBoard. Never report or send an exam score of a 1 or 2. They are not considered “passing” scores.

Should I report a 3 on an AP Exam? ›

You don't need to send or self-report anything lower than a 3. Those 3s probably won't hurt you, and your 4s and 5s could help you because some schools do use AP scores to help as they evaluate your application. AP scores can supplement and boost grades and your other test scores that might not be as strong.

Does Harvard accept 4 on AP? ›

Harvard only accepts AP® scores of 5 for course credit. If you have 4 scores of 5, you can opt to obtain Advanced Standing. You can use AP® credits to opt-out of lower-level classes. Harvard has general academic requirements that all students must take.

Does UCLA accept 3 on AP test? ›

UCLA awards college credit for AP exams with scores of three or higher. The specific credit you receive depends on the college/school your major belongs to: AP Credit for the The College. AP Credit for the School of the Arts and Architecture.

Does Stanford accept a 4 on AP exam? ›

Scores of 4 or 5 on language AP exams fulfill the language requirement. For more information, view the credit policy on this college's website. Additional restrictions and requirements may apply to the policy listed below.

What is a 92 on an AP Exam? ›

Convert Your Composite Score to Your Scaled Score
Composite ScoreScaled Score
1 more row
Dec 16, 2021

What score is a 50 on an AP Exam? ›

Here are the basics of the AP English exam: it has 55 multiple-choice questions, worth 45% of your score, and three essays, worth 55% of your score. Each essay is graded between 1 and 9.
Step 3: Use the Chart to Estimate Your Scaled Score.
Composite Score (0-100 or 0-150)Scaled Score (1-5)
3 more rows
Mar 21, 2020

What GPA is an A in an AP class? ›

Many schools treat AP classes differently when calculating a student's grade point average (GPA). Rather than the traditional 4.0 scale, AP classes are weighted on a 5.0 scale — in an AP class, an A is equivalent to 5.0 instead of 4.0, and a B is equal to 4.0 instead of 3.0.

Is AP Bio the hardest AP? ›

AP Biology is one of the more difficult APs based on its challenging curriculum, the low rate of students who earn 5s on the exam, and the consensus from students on the demanding nature of the class. Ideally, you should take an Intro to Biology class before you take AP Biology so that you're fully prepared for it.

What is the hardest AP to self study? ›

[8] AP Chemistry is rated as the hardest of all AP classes if you're self-studying, at 8.3 / 10.

How many AP classes should I take for Harvard? ›

Going up the selectivity chain, the average at Harvard is eight AP classes. To be competitive at some of the most highly selective colleges in the country, 8-12 AP courses may be the sweet spot amount, assuming the student can handle that level of rigor.

What is the least taken AP class? ›

Many of the least popular AP exams are world language tests, as these exams generally target a more niche group of students. What's more, some languages are less commonly taught at high schools than others (e.g., Japanese and Italian courses are rarer than Spanish courses).

What are the two hardest AP classes? ›

Top 10 Hardest AP Classes by Exam Pass Rate
  • Physics 1. 51.6% 8.8%
  • Environmental Science. 53.4% 11.9%
  • Chemistry. 56.1% 10.6%
  • U.S. Government and Politics. 57.5% 15.5%
  • U.S. History. 58.7% 13.0%
  • Human Geography. 59.0% 11.8%
  • European History. 59.3% 13.7%
  • Statistics. 60.0% 16.2%

How many is too many AP classes? ›

Depending on what kind of school you want to go to, you should be taking between 3 and 5 AP® classes this year. You will need to manage your time well, however, as you also need to study for the SAT® or ACT® during this time.

What is the easiest AP class to pass? ›

Easiest AP exams by pass rate

AP Calculus BC. AP Chinese Language. AP English Literature. AP French Language.

What is the most passed AP exam? ›

Chinese,Calculus BC, Japanese, Drawing, and Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism are the AP tests with the highest average scores, but they are all known to be quite difficult.

Which AP has the highest 5 rate? ›

Furthermore, some decidedly hard exams, like Chinese, Calculus BC, and Physics C, have very high 5 rates—up to 49%+ for Chinese!

Is a 75 a 5 on the AP exam? ›

Thing. Here are the basics of the AP English exam: it has 55 multiple-choice questions, worth 45% of your score, and three essays, worth 55% of your score. Each essay is graded between 1 and 9.
Step 3: Use the Chart to Estimate Your Scaled Score.
Composite Score (0-100 or 0-150)Scaled Score (1-5)
3 more rows
Mar 21, 2020

What is a 3 on an AP exam equivalent to? ›

The equivalent of a 3 on an AP exam is B-, C+ or C depending on the subject. The College Board designates 3 to be a pass and therefore qualified for admission. In terms of percentage, this is usually in the 50th percentile.

What percentage is a 3 on an AP exam? ›

The score distribution tables on this page show the percentages of 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s for each AP subject. Download a PDF version of the 2022 score distributions.
AP Score Distributions.
ExamAP Computer Science A
4 more columns

What is the easiest AP class? ›

The Three Easiest AP Classes
  1. AP Psychology. With a reputation as one of the easiest AP classes, it comes as no surprise that AP Psychology is also one of the most popular—292,501 students took the exam in 2021. ...
  2. AP Comparative Government and Politics. ...
  3. AP Environmental Science.
Feb 9, 2023

What grade is 86 in AP? ›

Grading Scale
11 more rows

Should I report my AP scores if I got a 3? ›

You don't need to send or self-report anything lower than a 3. Those 3s probably won't hurt you, and your 4s and 5s could help you because some schools do use AP scores to help as they evaluate your application. AP scores can supplement and boost grades and your other test scores that might not be as strong.

Should I cancel an AP score of 3? ›

Did I earn a 3 or higher? If you earned a 3, 4, or 5, do not withhold your score. It does not matter what your target score was—that is still a pretty strong score.

Should I report a 4 on an AP Exam? ›

So is 4 a good AP score? An AP score of 4 is like getting a B on the AP test. Most schools accept a 4 for credit. Before you take any AP exam, check with the colleges you're considering to find out what their policies are for granting AP credit.

What is the most passed AP Exam? ›

Top 10 Hardest AP Classes by Exam Pass Rate
AP Class/ExamPass Rate (3+)Perfect Score (5)
1. Physics 151.6%8.8%
2. Environmental Science53.4%11.9%
3. Chemistry56.1%10.6%
4. U.S. Government and Politics57.5%15.5%
6 more rows

Is the AP test curved? ›

In other words, AP scores are not graded on a curve but instead calculated specifically to reflect consistency in scoring from year to year.

Is AP or dual harder? ›

It is generally accepted that when it comes to having more rigorous curricula, AP programs win the AP vs dual enrollment battle. AP programs are also more widely accepted. Moreover, it is more convenient to take AP courses over dual enrollment.

Do colleges accept 2 on AP test? ›

A 2 means that you may have studied hard and prepared; however, something may have gone amiss while taking your exam. Perhaps you did not truly understand the material or did not utilize it properly." -A few things to keep in mind: ~The College Board says that a score of 2 = "possibly qualified" for college credit.

What AP classes give the most college credit? ›

It gives college credit for every AP exam, and you generally only need to score a 3 to get college credit (although higher scores often earn you more credit). Math, science, and foreign language exams tend to give the most credit.


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