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What is the AP Grading Scoring Scale? Complete Guide

Nov 2, 2022

AP Exams are majorly designed to evaluate how much you know and mastered the content and skills of a specific AP course. The AP Exam is a standardized exam, and each exam has its unique requirements. Almost all AP exams are conducted in paper-and-pencil mode, while a few AP courses have different ways to assess what you have learned. AP Art and Design, for example, requires students to submit a portfolio of work for scoring.

If you are an AP exam aspirant studying AP courses, you may think: what is the AP exam scoring scale? If you don’t know, how the AP Exam scores are scaled, don’t worry you are at the place.


How are the AP Exam Scores Measured?

The scores of AP Exams are measured on a scale of 1-5. The scores are scaled based on the scores received in the multiple-choice and free-response sections of the exam. The multiple-choice section of the AP Exam is scored by computer, where each answer sheet is scanned and the total number of correct responses equals the multiple-choice score. You will not be given any negative marks for incorrect or blank answers.

The free-response section – essays and open-ended questions – and through-course performance tasks are scored at the annual AP Reading organized during the first two weeks of June. For this section, specially appointed college professors and experienced AP teachers give scores.


The total scores obtained from the multiple-choice section and the free-response section are then combined to form a composite score. These composite scores are then converted into the 5-point scale using statistical processes aimed at ensuring that the point scale achieved this year reflects the same level of achievement as last year. For example, a 3 this year reflects the same level of achievement as a 3 last year, as per The College Board.

The scores from these two sections let the colleges and universities that receive them understand how well a student performed at a college-level AP course.


The below table shows the final AP Exams scores on a five-point scale:

AP Exam Score Recommendation College Course Grade Equivalent
1 No recommendation –
2 Possibly qualified –
3 Qualified B-, C+or C
4 Very well qualified A-, B+ or B
5 Extremely well qualified A+ or A
*Source: The College Board

How You Can Receive College Credit for AP Exam Scores?

If you have given AP exams and looking for credit or placement for any AP exam scores, you should ensure that your selected colleges and universities receive the official report of your AP Exam scores. You can receive a score report on your exam sheet by selecting one college or university and can send your scores to multiple colleges using your official College Board online account for additional fees.


The granting placement or credit policies based on AP Exam scores vary from one institution to another. While most colleges and universities will provide credit for scores of 3 or more, many colleges and universities may not accept all AP Exam scores.

What are AP Subjects?

There are 38 subjects for the AP Exam. The curriculum for each AP subject is created for the College Board by a panel of experts and college teachers in that field of study. For a high school course to have the designation, the College Board audits the course to ascertain that it meets the AP curriculum as specified in the Board’s Course and Examination Description (CED). Once the course is approved, the school can use the AP designation and the course will be publicly listed on the AP Course Ledger.


Here’s the list of the complete AP subjects:

● AP Art History
AP Biology
● AP Calculus AB
● AP Calculus BC
AP Chemistry
● AP Comparative Government & Politics
● AP Computer Science A
● AP Computer Science Principles
AP English Language and Composition
● AP English Literature and Composition
AP Environmental Science
● AP European History
● AP Human Geography
● AP Macroeconomics
AP Microeconomics
● AP Music Theory
● AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based
● AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based
● AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism
● AP Physics C: Mechanics
● AP Psychology
● AP Research
● AP Seminar
● AP Statistics
● AP Studio Art: 2-D Design
● AP Studio Art: 3-D Design
● AP Studio Art: Drawing
● AP U.S. Government & Politics
● AP U.S. History
● AP World History
● AP Chinese Language & Culture
● AP French Language & Culture
● AP German Language & Culture
● AP Italian Language & Culture
● AP Japanese Language and Culture
● AP Latin
● AP Spanish Language & Culture
● AP Spanish Literature & Culture

When to Start Preparation for AP Exams?

Advanced Placement (AP) exams significantly provide students with the capability to face college-level work when they are still in high school. Many students commence the preparation for AP one to three months before the exam day. This is the best way to give time to better prepare yourself. In this duration, you can practice test questions, review content, and devise strategies. You can also join AP classes that will set a great foundation for the AP exam.


For a better AP Exam prep, it is essential to start early and prepare a schedule to map your time. You should start by reviewing previous study materials, questions, and other stuff. You also must ensure that which subject are you taking first with keeping in mind the exam date. Dedicate your time preparing for each AP Exam subject. Try to study in small intervals that help you keep the workload manageable.

You should try to keep reading the material that you have been graded on it because the AP exam will be the culmination of the entire year. Before sitting to practice for AP exams, you cannot forget the exam pattern. Surf through the College Board portal to keep updated with the latest news and things associated with the exam. As AP exams are 2-3 hours long, keep practicing to solve the questions within the allotted time duration.


You should also seek help from your teachers or peers who have already sat for AP exams. But don’t rely more on them as your teacher can only ensure that all the subject material is covered. He/she doesn’t have enough time during the class to teach the material and review them thoroughly.

Final Thought

If you are willing to sit for AP Exams, you should prepare yourself by considering all the aspects related to the exams – How the AP Exam scores are scaled, what the subjects you should study, how you can better prepare for AP exams, etc. So, prepare hard, and do your best.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What percent grade is a 5 on an AP Exam?

A 70 to 75 percent out of 100 usually translates to a 5. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule of thumb. In July, students, high schools, colleges, and universities receive AP grades on a five-point scale: 5: Extremely knowledgeable.

2. What is the AP class grading scale?

AP Exam scores are given on a scale of 1 to 5. The scaled scores are based on the exam’s multiple-choice and free-response sections.

3. Is a 60 a passing grade in AP classes?

Yes, a 60 is considered a passing grade in AP classes. In AP, the average passing rate is 60-70%.

4. What GPA is in an AP class?

Honors and AP classes are both more heavily weighted in many high schools than regular classes. Honors courses typically add 0.5 points to your GPA, whereas AP classes frequently add 1 point. In other words, a 3.5 GPA would be increased to 4.0 in honors classes and 4.5 in AP classes.

ap grading scale


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