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Many colleges and universities in the United States allow students to earn college credit or placement into higher level courses based on their AP exam scores. Different schools have different policies, though. You can search the College Board's AP Credit Policy to see if schools are interested in accept AP scores.

AP test scores range from a scale one to five, with five being the highest-possible score. A three or above is generally considered a positive score. Some schools will grant three college credits, equivalent to a semester-long class, for a score of three. Other schools may require a score of 4 or 5 for the same credit. Rather than granting credit that can be applied towards graduation, some schools will exempt students from low-level required courses for certain AP scores.

Chart of AP Credit Policies

College Credit Placement
CalTech No No
Cornell Yes Yes
Johns Hopkins Yes Yes
Swarthmore Yes Yes
MIT Yes Yes
University of Maryland Yes Yes

Even with a general AP policy in place, getting credit for a good score isn't always guaranteed. Some universities maintain specific policies within certain majors. For example, a student majoring in history at the University of Maryland who earned a 4 on the Biology AP will receive 8 credits. Those credits can be specifically applied towards completion of one 100-level biology class and one lower level elective. A biology major who earned a 5 on the same AP test will also receive 8 credits that can be applied toward graduation requirements, but they will all count as lower level electives. That student will be required to take the mandatory freshment biology class for biology majors.

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April 04, 2020


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