How can I learn more about the research behind the AP School Honor Roll criteria?

The AP School Honor Roll criteria are anchored in research-based relationships between AP and college outcomes.  

College Culture: We recognize schools for increasing AP participation because students who take AP courses and exams become part of a college-going culture. These students are more likely to attend college than academically similar students who didn’t take AP, and this is true even of students who earn exam scores of 1 or 2. In addition, research finds that the biggest predicted boost in first-year college grades and on-time degree attainment is associated with AP participation changing from 0 to 1 AP Exam. Learn more here and here.  

College Credit: We also recognize schools for helping students earn scores of 3 or higher, the score most typically used by colleges to award college credit. Research indicates that students who earn a score of 3 or higher on AP Exams proceed to achieve higher overall first-year college GPAs and are more likely to earn their bachelor’s degrees on time—avoiding the costs of the additional semester(s) of college tuition and expenses that most American students now incur before attaining their degree. Learn more here and here.  

College Optimization: Finally, we place attention on students taking 5 AP Exams across their high school career because research finds that this is an optimal number of AP Exams for many students. Specifically, for each additional AP Exam a student takes—up to but not beyond 4–6 AP Exams—predicted first-year college grades and on-time degree attainment rates improve. Taking more than a total of 4–6 AP Exams in high school does not further improve a student’s college GPA and college graduation outcomes. Accordingly, the AP School Honor Roll does not provide added distinction for students taking more than 5 AP exams. Learn more here. Further, this metric only includes students who took at least 1 of their 5 AP Exams in grades 9 or 10. This is designed to reduce the pressure on students to load up on AP Exams in their junior and senior years.

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