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Better College Outcomes

Research consistently shows that AP students are better prepared for college than students who don’t take AP. They’re more likely to enroll in college, stay in college, do well in their classes, and graduate in four years.

Enrollment

Students who take AP Exams are more likely to enroll in a four-year college than similar students who don’t take AP Exams.

Retention

First-year college students who took AP Exams are more likely to return for a second year at that college than similar students who didn’t take AP Exams.

Performance

Students who earn a score of 3 or higher on AP Exams have higher overall first-year college GPAs than similar students who don’t take AP Exams.

For most subject areas, students who earn a score of 2 or higher on AP Exams are more likely to have higher college grades in those subject areas than similar students who don’t take AP Exams.

First-year college students who scored well enough on an AP Exam to place out of the intro-level course generally do as well as or better in that course than similar students who didn’t take AP Exams and took the intro course.

Graduation

Students who take AP Exams are more likely to graduate college in four years than similar students who don’t take AP Exams.

And when students complete their degrees in four years, they save the amount they’d have to pay for another year of college. For example, a fifth year in college adds, on average, $20,770 in costs at four-year public in-state colleges, $36,420 at four-year public out-of-state colleges, and $46,950 at four-year private colleges or universities.

AP Exam takers are also more likely to enter the workforce and start earning income earlier. Students who take five years to graduate lose out on the money they would’ve earned if they’d entered the workforce in that fifth year. For example, the fifth year in college results in a loss of about $32,000 of wages, on average.

AP Credit Policies

A record number of state higher education systems have adopted uniform AP credit policies. To date, 24 states have implemented statewide or systemwide AP credit policies, which typically require all public higher education institutions to award credit for AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. In the past five years, the number of state and system AP credit policies has more than doubled.

Nearly all U.S. colleges and universities grant credit and placement for qualifying AP Exam scores. More than 3,800 U.S. and international colleges and universities received AP Exam scores from U.S. public school students in the class of 2017.

AP credit opportunities are expanding

More colleges and universities are granting credit for AP than ever before. Overall, there were approximately 1,700 new or improved AP credit policies enacted in 2016-17.

In 2017, 65% of AP credit policies at four-year public and private colleges and universities granted credit for AP Exam scores of 3 rather than requiring higher scores.

Students whose AP Exam scores earned them college credit or allowed them to skip introductory courses have a wider array of college courses to choose from and can jump into higher-level courses in subjects they’re passionate about.

And research has shown that students who earn credit, advanced placement, or both through AP tend to earn more college credits overall.

It’s up to the state, college, or academic department within a college to decide whether students can earn credit or advanced placement through AP. They also decide the minimum AP Exam score students need to receive credit, and how those credits can be applied. See which colleges have AP credit policies.