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AP Score Distributions 2021 For AP Exam

Mar 16, 2023

2021 AP Score Distributions

Are you forethought to take AP exams this year? Have you checked all the related information? For example, are you aware of the AP score distribution pattern? Or have you gone through the AP exam passing rates of previous years? 

You might be conjecturing whether these questions are valuable to know. Or you might know about 2021 AP score distributions. You must know the answer to the above questions if you take part in AP exams. These are some points that you must have cleared about.


This section will teach you about the AP score breakdown for 2021 and average AP scores. In addition, it will let you plan your studying schedule for AP exams.

Average AP Exams Score

Average means mean. It is the score that a maximum number of students achieve. The average or mean AP exam score for 2021 was 2.80. Above 60% of total candidates earned more than three scores in AP exams in 2021.


As per the 2021 AP exam passing rate record, Calculus BC, Chinese, Drawing, Japanese, and Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism were the AP courses with the highest average scores. However, these are all quite difficult courses.

Calculating Average AP Score

The College Board has not yet set any pass or fail criteria for AP exams. It is quite different from other competitive exams. The absence of criteria is because of the difference in the level of exam courses and participating students’ current academic class level. In other words, it is not simple for a high school student to attempt a college-level examination.


As these exams aim to advance students’ fundamental knowledge, most high schools recommend that students select the desired subjects in which they want to make their career. Therefore, they encourage students to take their selected AP classes and prepare for them diligently.

The scores for AP exams are provided from a range of 1 to 5. Here the lowest score is one, while 5 is the highest or perfect score. Students who earn a score of 2 or below will not get any college credit or rewards. However, there are no fail or pass criteria for AP exams. Instead, the average or mean AP score is calculated based on the maximum number of scores attained by participating students.


Average or Mean AP Exams Scores

Generally, getting a three score is considered the average or mean score in AP exams. However, the average or mean AP score distribution for 2021 is given below.

AP Test SubjectMean Score% with 3 or Higher
Art and Design- 3D3.0971.4
Art and Design- 2D3.4287.1
Art and Design- Drawing3.5186.2
Art History2.8455.3
Calculus BC3.6275.2
Chinese Language- Standard2.9966.4
Chinese Language- Total4.1188.2
Computer Science Principles2.9966.5
Computer Science A3.1265.1
Economics Micro2.9659.1
Economics Macro2.7451.3
English Literature2.4743.9
English Language2.8657.7
European History2.8254.6
Environmental Science2.6750.3
French Language- Standard3.0169.0
French Language- Total3.1371.3
German Language- Standard2.7557.3
German Language- Total3.0965.1
Govt. & Politics- US2.6250.4
Govt. & Politics- Comparative3.1671.8
Italian Language- Total3.2772.4
Human Geography2.6952.5
Japanese Language- Total3.6174.3
Italian Language Standard3.0668.7
Japanese Language- Standard2.6453.5
Music Theory- Aural3.0461.5
Music Theory3.0461.2
Physics 12.4142.1
Music Theory- Non-Aural3.0361.0
Physics C E & M3.4569.5
Physics 23.0665.3
Physics C Mechanics3.3873.5
Spanish Language- Standard3.2777.1
Spanish Language- Total3.4180.0
Spanish Literature2.9264.9
World History2.7152.2
US History2.5247.2

AP Score Distributions

AP score distributions are provided to assist students with the percentage they scored in each AP exam at a certain point. These points aid candidates in recognizing their percentile scores. As a result, you can compare your scores with other students and check where you stack up with them.


AP score distributions change each year based on students’ scores on each AP exam.

202 AP Score Distributions

The lists below will show how students who participated in the 2021 AP exams performed in most of the exams. The AP score breakdown 2021 tables given below show the percentages of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 scores for each AP course.


AP Score Distributions 2021: AP Capstone

AP Seminar11.1%19.5%54.5%10.7%4.3%
AP Research13.7%25.4%42.4%14.2%4.3%

AP Score Distributions 2021: Arts

AP 3-D Art and Design6.5%28.6%36.3%24.9%3.7%
AP 2-D Art and Design10.2%34.7%42.3%12.5%0.4%
AP Drawing14.2%37.7%34.3%12.4%1.4%
AP Art History12.0%19.6%23.8%30.1%14.6%
AP Music Theory19.9%18.1%23.2%23.2%15.6%

AP Score Distribution 2021: English

AP English Literature and Composition4.9%12.0%26.9%37.3%18.8%
AP English Language and Composition9.1%22.9%25.8%29.3%12.9%

AP Score Distribution 2021: History & Social Science

AP European History10.6%19.4%24.7%32.5%12.9%
AP Comparative Government and Politics16.6%24.5%30.7%14.9%13.3%
AP Macroeconomics18.0%19.6%13.7%15.7%32.9%
AP Human Geography14.4%19.7%18.3%15.1%32.4%
AP Psychology14.1%21.2%18.0%15.2%31.5%
AP Microeconomics18.5%24.0%16.6%17.0%23.9%
AP United States History10.1%15.9%21.2%21.6%31.2%
AP United States Government and Politics12.0%11.6%26.9%25.8%23.8%
AP World History9.7%18.5%24.0%28.9%19.0%

AP Score Distribution 2021: Mathematics & Computer Science

AP Calculus BC38.3%16.5%20.4%18.2%6.6%
AP Calculus AB17.6%14.1%19.3%25.3%23.7%
AP Computer Science Principles12.4%21.7%32.5%19.9%13.6%
AP Computer Science A23.9%21.9%19.3%12.1%22.8%
AP Statistics16.2%19.9%21.8%17.2%24.9%

AP Score Distributions 2021: Sciences

AP Chemistry11.2%16.4%23.7%24.7%23.9%
AP Biology7.4%19.4%32.4%30.0%10.8%
AP Physics 16.9%16.3%18.9%26.4%31.4%
AP Environmental Science7.0%24.9%18.5%27.6%22.1%
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism32.6%23.1%13.8%18.0%12.5%
AP Physics 215.4%17.9%32.0%27.0%7.6%
AP Physics C: Mechanics23.5%28.6%21.3%14.9%11.6%

AP Score Distributions 2021: World Languages & Cultures

AP French Language and Culture12.6%23.3%35.4%22.2%6.5%
AP Chinese Language and Culture57.2%15.5%15.5%4.6%7.1%
AP Italian Language and Culture20.6%22.6%29.2%18.6%9.0%
AP German Language and Culture18.0%19.5%27.6%23.5%11.4%
AP Latin10.0%16.9%29.9%25.3%17.9%
AP Japanese Language and Culture47.5%9.2%17.6%7.9%17.7%
AP Spanish Literature and Culture7.8%20.8%36.3%25.5%9.6%
AP Spanish Language and Culture17.3%29.7%33.0%16.5%3.5%


Enrolling in AP exams and scoring well in them is a great way to settle yourself for future success. AP exams not only provide you with a chance to earn college credits but also allow you to show your knowledge, skills, and work ethic. However, when it comes to AP scores, the key factor is how you perform compared to other students.  

Although passing rates can change for different AP courses from school to school, AP score distributions help you understand the difficulty level of the subject you selected. You can ask your AP guidance counselor for more information about the AP exam passing rates for different AP courses in your school.


Before starting your preparations, check the AP score breakdown for 2021 and other years. This way, you can develop a target raw score that will aid you in passing your AP exams.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the use of AP scores?

Generally, AP scores are helpful in college credit, showing admissions officers your academic performance, improving your resume, and fulfilling certain college course requirements. Every college uses AP exam scores in different ways. Hence, you must check the college website to know how to use your AP scores.

Scoring 4 or 5 in AP exams will let you earn college credit. Your attempting AP exams can still provide you a grade from your high school for that AP class. Achieving good grades in AP courses will improve your profile. 

2. Why were the AP exam passing rates for the easiest AP courses low in 2021?

Having the easiest in the curriculum does not mean the AP courses will stand in the highest AP exam passing rates list. For example, in 2021, the passing rate of the easiest AP courses like US Government, Environmental Science, and Human Geography was below the average AP scores.

There were several reasons for this. Some of them are:

  • Not preparing enough.
  • You are making a lot of silly mistakes while answering the questions.
  • You are underestimating the topics and curriculum.
  • I was backing out from the exam.

Attempting a low number of students also affects the AP exam passing rates when the participants are in low numbers, the passing percentage increases.

3. What AP courses resulted in the lowest passing rates in 2021?

The AP courses that resulted in the lowest passing rates in 2021 are:

  • AP Physics 1 Exam
  • AP Latin Exam
  • AP Biology Exam
  • AP Chemistry Exam
  • AP English Literature and Composition Exam
  • AP European History Exam
  • AP Macroeconomics Exam
  • AP Psychology Exam
  • AP Statistics Exam
  • AP Human Geography Exam
  • AP US Government and Politics Exam
  • AP US History Exam

Getting three or more in these AP exams counts as a good score.

2021 AP Score Distributions


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