AP Exams Matter More Than Ever

AP Exam Schedule

In 6 weeks, AP exams will start (first day of testing is May 6th). If your teen is not sure how they will likely score, then I highly recommend they take a practice test to check their progress.

Why Are AP Exams Important?

  • Admissions: Most top colleges would like to see AP exam scores so that they have additional certainty that a student is sufficiently prepared to succeed at their institution. At the University of Georgia, for instance, the average admitted student had taken more than 10 AP or IB classes. You get the idea: the more selective the school, the more AP exam scores the other applicants will likely submit, so the more to your advantage it is to submit top AP exam scores as well. And, as the admissions officers at Yale say in their podcast, “If your transcript shows that you have been enrolled in several AP courses before senior year and your application doesn’t include any AP scores, we’re going to wonder what’s up.” In short, AP classes should be paired with (good) reported AP scores if a student wants the AP classes to help them get an advantage in admissions.
  • College Course Credit: All people understandably prioritize the present, so this benefit is often discounted, but it should have higher prominence because of how advantageous AP credits are in college.
    • Graduate early: Many of our students have been able to graduate a semester early, which allows them to save money on tuition, use that time to travel before jumping into a career, etc.
    • Fewer classes: Most of our students with AP credits still graduate in four years but choose to take a lighter course load in college; this allows them to focus more on the fewer classes they take, get higher grades in those classes, have more flexibility in their schedule, and/or take a few harder classes because they know they will have more time to devote to those classes.
    • More classes: Alternatively, students can still take a full course load but, because they will have likely bypassed a few introductory courses with their AP course credits, they will be able to take more courses than others and get to more advanced courses (sometimes taking courses at the graduate school level while still in undergrad).
  • Scholarships: To a lesser extent, AP exam scores can support the case to give a student more merit aid or a merit scholarship (a few public universities even consider AP exam scores in scholarship decisions).

What is a good AP Exam Score?

AP exams are scored from 1 to 5 (you can find the percentile distributions at each score: here). All students should strive for 5’s (obviously), but students applying to top schools will often need a 5 on an exam in order for that score to help them in admissions, and they will almost always need at least a 4 for that score to give them course credit at the college. Colleges vary substantially on whether they will provide course credit for AP exam scores, so you’ll need to check on that school’s website for what AP exam score a student will need in order to get course credit (the more selective the school, typically the higher the requisite score). Here is an example of what the AP course credit page will look like: AP course credit webpage.

How Important Are AP Exam Scores for Admissions?

Moderately important for highly selective colleges, particularly if a student’s high school offers a lot of AP courses. Previously, AP exam scores were relatively unimportant; however, when the College Board discontinued SAT subject tests in 2021, top colleges shifted their focus from SAT subject test scores to AP exam scores. If a student’s high school does not offer AP exams, then a student will either not be disadvantaged relative to other applicants or only slightly so for not submitting AP exam scores. But, if a high school offers a lot of AP courses, then highly selective colleges will wonder why a student did not challenge themselves more by taking more difficult classes that were available to them. More opportunity = higher expectations.

How Can I Take Practice Tests?

We can provide students with practice tests and tutoring for most AP exams. Feel free to reach out to us via email ([email protected]) or phone (908-277-0128). We’re happy to help and serve, and we encourage all students to try to take a practice test in early April so that they know how much (if any) preparation they will need in order to achieve their desired score on their AP exams.

brett jordan Fp4ERdkR5jU unsplash scaled 1 AP Exams Summit Prep

Wondering what the top colleges say in their own words about AP scores?

Princeton University

princeton 3 AP Exams Summit Prep

Stanford University

stanford 2 AP Exams Summit Prep

Columbia University

columbia 1 1 AP Exams Summit Prep

Harvard University

harvard AP Exams Summit Prep

Yale University

yale 3 AP Exams Summit Prep

University of Chicago

uchicago 2 AP Exams Summit Prep

California Institute of Technology

caltech 2 AP Exams Summit Prep
caltech 2 e1649119465333 AP Exams Summit Prep

Duke University

duke 2 AP Exams Summit Prep

Johns Hopkins University

johns hopkins 2 AP Exams Summit Prep

Northwestern University

northwestern 5 AP Exams Summit Prep


dartmouth AP Exams Summit Prep

Vanderbilt University

vanderbilt AP Exams Summit Prep

Rice University

rice AP Exams Summit Prep

University of Notre Dame

notre dame 2 AP Exams Summit Prep

Georgetown University

georgetown 4 AP Exams Summit Prep

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

umichigan AP Exams Summit Prep

New York University

nyu AP Exams Summit Prep


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