Using AP in College Enrollment

AP is a resource that college admissions and enrollment professionals can rely on to help recruit, enroll, and retain a diverse, academically prepared class.

Your institution’s AP credit and placement policy can help attract motivated and prepared students to your institution. And AP data can be used throughout the enrollment process to support your efforts to identify and recruit students who are more likely to persist and graduate.


College-bound AP Exam takers say that AP credit policies influence their enrollment decisions about as much as athletics, extracurriculars, and the use of instructional technology on campus. College Board offers a range of tools to help enrollment professionals build an incoming class with a strong academic and cultural fit for your institution. Here are a couple of examples.

College Board Search is an integrated student search solution that offers features and services designed to help institutions develop and execute strategic recruitment and enrollment plans. Students are in the driver’s seat when they use College Board Search. By using Search and AP, you can help fulfill your institution’s mission by:

  • Doing early outreach: Find high-achieving 10th- and 11th-graders who have taken AP using Student Search Service.
  • Recruiting specific majors: AP students tend to major in disciplines related to their AP Exam, according to a research study. 
  • Building data-driven scholarship criteria: AP participation and performance can be used when evaluating students and awarding scholarships.


Most colleges and universities use AP as a factor in evaluating candidates for admission. Two-thirds of admissions and enrollment leadership indicate that AP courses are extremely or very helpful in evaluating candidates for admission. AP gives:

  • Consistency: As a nationally recognized program that includes a standardized assessment of knowledge and skills, AP offers a consistent measure of academic achievement.
  • Evidence of rigor: Students with AP on their high school transcripts show exposure to rigorous, college-level curricula—a key element of college readiness.
  • Priority admission: AP Exam scores can be used as admissions criteria for special programs or honors colleges.

Credit and Placement

AP Exam scores can be used to award motivated and capable students with college credit and to give them the opportunity to advance to upper-level courses. College Board and the American Council on Education (ACE) recommend awarding credit for AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. Learn more about AP credit-granting recommendations.

Once matriculated at a college of university, students with credits or placements from their AP experiences may enrich their postsecondary studies by enrolling in a broader array of courses, or, delving deeper into their chosen majors by taking more upper-level courses. Research has shown that students who earn credit and advanced placement for AP Exam scores tend to earn more credits overall, particularly in the subject area in which they took the exam.