What Your AP Scores Mean
October 14, 2009 by Matthew Rieber
Students taking the AP exam in May know that the higher score they get the better, however, they may not know that a passing score for one school could be unacceptable for another. Traditionally, to receive college credit for an AP course students need to receive a three, four, or five on the AP exam. This has begun to change for colleges around the United States. Colleges have slowly been raising their standards for AP course acceptance, making getting credit for an already difficult course a challenge in itself. Those taking AP courses need to find out how the colleges they are applying to view their scores.
Students working towards a science major especially need to check the requirements of the colleges they wish to apply to. “[The College Board] has meetings and we get updated on what’s going on for [classes] like AP Biology,” said David Keener, head of T.C.’s Science Department. “[The people at the meetings] have told us for a couple years that fewer colleges seem to be accepting 3’s for [science] credit.” College acceptance of certain scores varies from college to college but, the individual subject boards make most of the main decisions on how scores are accepted. “I’m not saying that there are no colleges that give credit for 3’s, I’m just saying the number [of colleges] that are giving [credit] for 3’s is decreasing,” said Keener.
Most students who have already taken AP exams may be dismayed to find that their class credits will not be accepted, however this does not mean that the credits will be denied entirely. “Some [colleges] will give you credit for a 3 [on an AP science exam] if you’re a non-science major, but [will] not if you are a science major,” said Keener.
Even if the credit itself is not accepted by the college, students will find that AP credit can be rewarded in different ways. Students may not be able to receive actual credit for AP courses from some courses but they might have the opportunity to continue their current educational paths. “Some schools will grant you credit for the course if you have a 4 or a 5. Some of them could give you an out of placement meaning, that way if you have a 3 you don’t have to take the base class,” said Laura Newton guidance counselor. “They may not give you credit but you may skip that basic class and move to a higher level”.
Schools look at their policies over time in order to ensure that the students they admit have enough mastery of a course to continue. “Any school would review their policies on a regular basis to see what type of students they are accepting and look at the criteria [for AP scores] and if it seems there is a pattern they might change their criteria” said Newton. “So [score acceptance] has not [drastically] changed, it’s just different for each of the schools so you need to go to their websites to find out what is [their acceptance] policy” For more information students should visit college websites such as http://collegesearch.collegeboard.com/apcreditpolicy/index.jsp to find the various scores accepted by colleges for each subject.