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Shaun Ault

What Are AP Test Scores?

Good AP test scores are your ticket to success in your college career. In this post you’ll find how your AP test scores can translate into college credits or allow you to bypass prerequisites for your major.


A lot of the information here applies to any AP exam, but we will focus on items specific to the AP Calculus AB and BC exams as well.

What Do Your Scores Mean

There are dozens of different AP exams in almost any academic subject you can take in high school. But they all have one thing in common: the scores range from 1 to 5.

According to , the scores are a bit like letter grades.

  1. No recommendation
  2. Possibly qualified
  3. Qualified
  4. Well qualified
  5. Extremely well qualified

You should aim for a score of 4 or 5. However, some schools also give credits or course equivalency for scores of 3. Unfortunately scores below 3 do not qualify you for credits.

UC Berkeley Campus - AP test scores

UC Berkeley campus. High AP test scores could earn you college credit here! (Photo by )

AP Policy

Each school has its own policy regarding AP credit. Generally speaking, major colleges and universities follow the guidelines below.

  • AP Calculus AB score 4-5 → one semester of calculus
  • AP Calculus AB score 4-5 → two semesters of calculus

Often this means that you can earn college credits before even walking into your first class!

Instead of credits (which count toward graduation), some schools offer equivalency for decent AP scores. This means that you may be able to skip a course or two related to the AP exam, allowing you to take higher level courses for your major.

AP Calculus exam? Challenge accepted!

The AB Subscore

There is also an incentive for taking the Calculus BC exam (which is very challenging) rather than just the AB.

The AP Calculus BC exam scores include a separate AB subscore, which measures how well you did on just those questions dealing with AB material.

For example, if you only scored a 2 or 3 on the BC test, but got an AB subscore of 4, then you may still be eligible for credit or equivalency for Calculus I.

AP Calculus AB and BC Exams -Clemmonsdogpark

Even if you don’t pass the AP Calculus BC exam, a good AB subscore can benefit you.

For more information to help you decide on taking the Calculus AB or BC exam, check out: Should I Take the AP Calculus AB or BC Exam?

More Specifics

If you’d like to learn more about how different schools award credits or equivalencies for AP test scores, the following resource will help you out. How Many College Credits will AP Calculus Give You?

Good luck on the test!

About Shaun Ault

Shaun earned his Ph. D. in mathematics from The Ohio State University in 2008 (Go Bucks!!). He received his BA in Mathematics with a minor in computer science from Oberlin College in 2002. In addition, Shaun earned a B. Mus. from the Oberlin Conservatory in the same year, with a major in music composition. Shaun still loves music -- almost as much as math! -- and he (thinks he) can play piano, guitar, and bass. Shaun has taught and tutored students in mathematics for about a decade, and hopes his experience can help you to succeed!

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