This past school year you studied for AP exams, and then in May, you finally had a chance to prove just how much you know on subjects as far ranging as literature and calculus. Soon, your AP scores will be released, and you will know exactly how much all your efforts paid off.
When will you know? July 5-9.
Those are the dates when College Board will release AP scores online, but you need to check when your specific state will have its scores available. Also, the score availability is based on where you are accessing the College Board website, not the geographical location of your school or school district.
If you are in Texas during July 5-9, then you can first access your AP scores on Sunday, July 8, at 7AM (CST).
Here are the dates and times for each state:
How Do You Determine If You Got "Good" or "Bad" AP Scores?
Once you access your AP scores, you may be wondering if you got a good or bad score. In some cases, it should be fairly obvious. Scores of 1 or 2 are definitely ones that you WON'T be hanging on the fridge. Scores of 5, on the other hand, should be!
The question is more about the middle scores, such as 3’s and 4’s. What should you do with those? And generally, what is really the advantage of having high AP scores?
As I’ve discussed in a previous blog post, AP scores matter to some degree, but they are not the foundation of any college application. At best, they show your mastery of a subject and can highlight your readiness to study your desired major. And of course, you can clear room on your schedule for classes that matter to you by claiming college credit with high AP scores.
In other words, you should evaluate the quality of your AP scores based on two goals:
Admission to college (i.e., the scores make you look impressive to admissions officers)
Claiming college credit (i.e., you save money on tuition and open up your schedule)
For Goal #1 - AP scores for impressing admissions officers...
It will be tricky to determine what precisely differentiates a “good” or “bad” score. (Should you report your 4 in AP Calculus? What about your 3 in AP Spanish?) Since most freshman academic profiles only show SAT/ACT scores, GPA, and rank, it should be clear that AP scores are not one of the key metrics of admission, as I’ve been saying.
But if you really want to split hairs, use SAT/ACT scores of your college’s freshman profile as a guide. If most students are scoring, for example, in the 34-36 range on ACT or in the 1500-1600 on SAT, then you probably only want to report 4’s and 5’s (or maybe only 5’s).
Here’s an example of a freshman admissions profile (from Dartmouth’s website):
If you are wondering how to access a college freshman profile, simply type in “freshman academic profile” + “school name” in a search engine and you should see the appropriate page/website as one of the first results. For Dartmouth, I typed in “freshman academic profile dartmouth” and the first result was the “Class Profile & Testing” page of Dartmouth’s website.
For Goal #2 - AP scores for claiming college credit...
Colleges are typically very open about what AP scores they accept (if any), so if you want to know if your AP scores are good for claiming college credit, then either check out College Board’s college database or go to any college’s website.
Scores of 3-5 are considered passing, but colleges differ significantly on what scores are worth college credit.
For large public universities, usually you can get class credits for 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s. (Sometimes you can even have those credits come with grades, so you may be starting your college career with a 4.0 GPA.)
For elite private universities, however, typically you need 4’s and 5’s to get any college credit.
UT-Austin is an example of a large public university that offers generous amounts of credit for passing AP scores:
This is just a small sample of UT’s “AP score → college credit” database.
Yale is an example of an elite private university that is much less generous about AP scores:
Most of the core classes cannot be bypassed with AP scores, and for English, you have to get a 5.
Some other considerations for claiming college credit with AP scores...
If you can claim college credit from AP scores, do so with your best interests in mind.
It makes sense to claim credit on classes that are not important to your major. For example, you may have a language requirement, and instead of getting overwhelmed with a peripheral class, you should claim the credit with your passing AP score.
However, if you are planning to become a doctor and also have scored a 5 on AP Biology, you should seriously weigh whether taking Biology 101 at college will be beneficial to you. I’d argue that college credits for AP classes are great, but you should do your core studies, regardless of AP scores, all at college.
Why? High school AP classes and college courses are, in most cases, leagues apart: the college classes are almost always more challenging and taught by people who have more knowledge and expertise.
So even if you think the intro classes in your major will be easy, use them to fill in knowledge gaps and also get yourself better acquainted with the whole college experience.
How Should You Report Your AP Scores?
Colleges only know about your AP scores if you tell them. In other words, AP scores are “self-reported.” The Common App, for example, has a part where you can input the scores. But it’s totally optional.
Some high schools include AP scores on high school transcripts, making it hard for students to hide bad scores. College Board expressly tells high schools NOT to list AP scores:
If you are not sure if your high school includes AP scores on your transcript, ask your guidance counselor. If the scores are included in your transcript, then you could ask to remove them if you don't want colleges to see them.
Not Satisfied with Your AP Scores? What Can You Do?
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if you get bad AP scores. But there are still a few silver linings.
One is that you still have a chance to prove your mastery of the subject matter: you can take SAT Subject Tests in the fall or spring. Also, you can take the bad scores as a sign to prepare better for any future exams.
And then there's this:
More recently, elite private high schools have decided to stop offering AP classes. So while getting bad AP scores is not ideal, know that AP classes and scores are increasingly becoming an obsolete way to measure a student’s fitness for college.
Maybe you aren’t missing out on that much anyway.
Want further help on what to do after receiving your AP scores? Set up a FREE 1-1 consultation with one of our directors and they can help you determine next steps.