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Learning about the Results of the College Board AP Exams

written by: William Springer•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 7/19/2010

Taking the AP Exam is a great way to earn college credit, but it can also be nerve-racking. When will you find out how you did? What do the scores mean? Let's examine how to understand college board AP exams results.

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    Taking the AP Exams

    Taking Advanced Placement classes in high school is a great way to save time and money, as the class gives you high school credit and the exam gives you college credit. Because AP classes require college-level work, they also prepare you academically for going on to college, and they look great on your transcript to boot! Note that you do not actually have to take an AP class in order to take the exam, and you can take the same exam more than once.

    The AP exams take place in May, and scores tend to be mailed out in July to students, their high schools, and designated colleges. If you have taken multiple AP exams, each report will include scores for all the exams you've ever taken, unless you request that one or more be withheld or canceled.

    Let's take a closer look at college board AP exams results.

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    Advanced Placement Test Scores

    Advanced Placement tests are scored on a scale from one to five, with five being highest; the majority of students who take an AP exam at the conclusion of an advanced placement class score at least a three. According to the college board, the scores can be interpreted as follows:

    5 - Extremely well qualified

    4 - Well qualified

    3 - Qualified

    2 - Possibly qualified

    1 - No recommendation

    Multiple-choice questions on the exam are scored by computer; each correct answer scores one point and each incorrect answer costs a fraction of a point. Accordingly, it is usually worthwhile to guess if you can eliminate one or more incorrect choices.

    Free-response sections are scored by hand during the first half of June, after which they are combined with your multiple-choice score to obtain the combined score, discussed above. In theory, a score of 5 on an Advanced Placement test corresponds to an A in a college class, a 4 corresponds to a B, and so on.

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    Required Scores for College Credit

    Because individual colleges and universities determine course credit for AP scores, you must contact the school of your choice to find out their requirements. Depending on the subject and the school, a minimum score of either 3 or 4 may be required for credit, and the number of credits given may depend on your score. For example, at Colorado State University, scoring a 3 on AP US History excuses you from History 150, while a 4 or 5 also excuses you from History 151.

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    So How Did You Do?

    Your score report will be mailed to you in early to mid July; if you need to know them earlier, they are available by phone on July 1st for an additional fee; at the time of this writing, the fee is $8 and the number is (609) 771-7300 or (888) 225-5427. Be sure to check the college board website for current information, and refer back to this article for help interpreting college board AP exams results.