Individual colleges, not the College Board, set the policies on awarding credit for AP exams.

Advanced Placement (AP) scores are released early July each year 10-11 months after the journey to these scores begin. Daily class time, rigorous course work and extra study sessions all culminate with an AP exam in May.

Many begin the journey counting on AP exam scores earning them college credit and ultimately saving them money on college. Sadly, it doesn’t always pan out that way.

Qualifying AP Exam Scores

Earning a 1 or 2 on an AP exam will always result in no college credit earned. At some schools, a 3 or 4 won’t even qualify for college credit; however, at many schools 3’s and 4’s do. Many I’m not naming only offer credit for 4’s and 5’s.

Does it get you out of taking a class?

In some cases, the college will give credit for taking the course, but not allow it count toward a specific required course. When that happens, it may count toward elective credits or additional credits at graduation. This is usually when students are most disappointed.

Other times there is a reason to celebrate! The college will not only award credit but also allow the AP course to replace a required general education requirement or a required course in the major. This is a financial win for the student!

Even better is when replacement credit is awarded for a 3, but the student scoring a 4 or 5 earns additional course credit and gets out of higher level classes!

When choosing both high school AP course work and colleges for application, do so knowing the benefit of AP classes and exam scores.


The College Board AP website has a searchable database on how each college treats AP exam scores and college credit. Search for your schools here to see the benefits you may have earned! 

While your high school will automatically receive the AP scores, students need to login to their College Board account to retrieve scores here. Students with qualifying scores (3+), be sure to send them to the college in which you enroll, not necessarily everywhere you apply.