Impacts of AP: More Than a Score

AP courses and exams have a broader impact beyond college credit.

Growing your AP program can have a broader impact than what’s typically expected. By providing more students with more exposure to advanced coursework, you can raise the student achievement of your entire school.

The AP Advantage

Expanding access to more students creates more opportunities. In the last decade, the number of U.S. public high school graduates who have taken an AP Exam increased by 65%. At the same time, colleges across the country have added over 5,000 new AP-related policies—giving students more opportunities to earn college credit and placement than ever before. Today, half of students entering four-year colleges start with some credit from AP courses.

AP can be challenging, but it is the most rewarding thing I did in high school—I came into college with enough credits to pursue a bachelor's degree AND master's degree in four years total!

— Anna K., University of Alabama


More Than a Score

While 2 out of 3 AP students earn some college credit, success in AP is measured by more than exam results. We’ve recently confirmed what AP teachers have long known: students benefit from completing AP courses and exams, regardless of their score.

While credit and advanced placement opportunities are more valuable than ever, this article and the research below demonstrate the additional benefits taking AP courses and exams have.

Research shows students who take AP courses and exams are more likely than their peers to attend college and graduate on time. Even AP Exam scores of 1 or 2 predict better college outcomes than academically similar college students who didn’t take an AP course and exam.  

  • Students who achieve an AP Exam score of 2 do significantly better in introductory college classes (compared to academically similar students who don’t take that corresponding AP Exam.) This was further confirmed in a 2021 survey of nearly 2,000 college freshmen; more than 90% of respondents who earned an AP Exam score of 2 said they are doing well (or very well) in college courses that cover similar content.
  • Students who achieve AP Exam scores of a 1 or 2 often earn a higher score on the subsequent AP Exams they take.

Share the value of all AP Exam scores with your students.

Four-Year College Enrollment Probabilities

AP Students by Average AP Score

Academically Similar Students with No AP

Average AP Score of 1



Average AP Score of 2



Average AP Score of 3



Average AP Score of 4



Average AP Score of 5



Notes: Probability of enrollment immediately after high school graduation is calculated for 1,560,229 students who graduated high school in 2017. Probabilities are calculated separately for the average student in each AP score sample conditional on gender, ethnicity, first-generation status, SAT score, and HSGPA.

There's a lot of power in the 2. A 2 will get you in the door. Most places it doesn't get you the credit, but it shows colleges that you're ready for rigorous coursework.

— Timothy Towslee, AP English Language and Composition Teacher, Glen Allen High School (Va.)