Created by the College Board, the AP Exams are 2-3 hours long and are designed to test students’ mastery of content and skill sets. Most exams consist of both multiple-choice and free-response questions.  Some AP Exams require students to complete performance tasks, either in place of or in addition to multiple-choice and free-response questions. These include AP Computer Science Principles, AP Research, AP Seminar, and AP Art & Design.

The AP Exams are designed to align with the AP Course framework, content, and conformity of questions that students learn throughout the year.  The College Board consults with AP Course teachers across the country to design and grade each exam, and they revisit exam design on an annual basis.

Test Dates

The AP Exams ordinarily take place over a two-week testing window in May. This year, the College Board is offering schools the opportunity to mix and match between three different testing windows (listed in the link below) and two different test formats (paper-to-pencil and online) throughout May and June. AP scores are released in July. See below for the full list of test dates for this year.

AP Subject Administration 1 Administration 2 Administration 3
Art and Design Digital Portfolio Submission Deadline: Thursday, May 20 @ 11:59pm EDT
Art History Thursday, May 6 @ 12:00pm Wednesday, May 19 @ 4:00pm (digital) Wednesday, June 2 @ 4:00pm (digital)
Biology Friday, May 14 @ 8:00am Thursday, May 27 @ 12:00pm (digital) Friday, June 11 @ 12:00pm (digital)
Calculus AB Tuesday, May 4 @ 8:00am Monday, May 24 @ 8:00am Wednesday, June 9 @ 12:00pm (digital)
Calculus BC Tuesday, May 4 @ 8:00am Monday, May 24 @ 8:00am Wednesday, June 9 @ 12:00pm (digital)
Chemistry Friday, May 7 @ 8:00am Tuesday, May 25 @ 8:00am Thursday, June 10 @ 12:00pm (digital)
Chinese Language and Culture (in-school computer-based only) Friday, May 14 @ 12:00pm Friday, May 21 @ 12:00pm Friday, June 4 @ 12:00pm
Comparative Government and Politics Monday, May 17 @ 8:00am Friday, May 28 @ 12:00pm (digital) Tuesday, June 8 @ 12:00pm (digital)
Computer Science A Thursday, May 6 @ 12:00pm Tuesday, May 18 @ 4:00pm (digital) Tuesday, June 1 @ 4:00pm (digital)
Computer Science Principles Monday, May 17 @ 8:00am Wednesday, May 26 @ 4:00pm (digital) Monday, June 7 @ 4:00pm (digital)
Computer Science Principles: Performance Tasks Digital Portfolio Submission Deadline: Thursday, May 20 @ 11:59pm EDT
English Language and Composition Wednesday, May 12 @ 8:00am Wednesday, May 26 @ 12:00pm (digital) Monday, June 7 @ 12:00pm (digital)
English Literature and Composition Wednesday, May 5 @ 8:00am Tuesday, May 18 @ 12:00pm (digital) Tuesday, June 1 @ 12:00pm (digital)
Environmental Science Friday, May 14 @ 12:00pm Thursday, May 27 @ 4:00pm (digital) Friday, June 11 @ 4:00pm (digital)
European History Friday, May 7 @ 12:00pm Wednesday, May 19 @ 12:00pm (digital) Wednesday, June 2 @ 12:00pm (digital)
French Language and Culture Monday, May 10 @ 8:00am Friday, May 21 @ 12:00pm Friday, June 4 @ 12:00pm
German Language and Culture Tuesday, May 4 @ 12:00pm Friday, May 21 @ 12:00pm Friday, June 4 @ 12:00pm
Human Geography Tuesday, May 4 @ 12:00pm Friday, May 28 @ 12:00pm (digital) Tuesday, June 8 @ 12:00pm (digital)
Italian Language and Culture Friday, May 14 @ 8:00am Friday, May 21 @ 8:00am Friday, June 4 @ 8:00am
Japanese Language and Culture (computer-based) Wednesday, May 5 @ 12:00pm Friday, May 21 @ 8:00am Friday, June 4 @ 8:00am
Latin Tuesday, May 11 @ 12:00pm Friday, May 21 @ 8:00am Friday, June 4 @ 8:00am
Macroeconomics Monday, May 10 @ 12:00pm Wednesday, May 19 @ 4:00pm (digital) Wednesday, June 2 @ 4:00pm (digital)
Microeconomics Wednesday, May 12 @ 12:00pm Friday, May 28 @ 4:00pm (digital) Tuesday, June 8 @ 4:00pm (digital)
Music Theory Wednesday, May 12 @ 12:00pm Friday, May 21 @ 12:00pm Friday, June 4 @ 12:00pm
Physics 1: Algebra-Based Wednesday, May 5 @ 12:00pm Monday, May 24 @ 12:00pm Wednesday, June 9 @ 4:00pm (digital)
Physics 2: Algebra-Based Friday, May 7 @ 12:00pm Tuesday, May 25 @ 12:00pm Thursday, June 10 @ 4:00pm (digital)
Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Monday, May 3 @ 2:00pm Tuesday, May 25 @ 8:00am Thursday, June 10 @ 12:00pm (digital)
Physics C: Mechanics Monday, May 3 @ 12:00pm Monday, May 24 @ 12:00pm Wednesday, June 9 @ 4:00pm (digital)
Psychology Tuesday, May 11 @ 12:00pm Thursday, May 20 @ 4:00pm (digital) Thursday, June 3 @ 4:00pm (digital)
Research: Performance Tasks Digital Portfolio Submission Deadline: Thursday, May 20 @ 11:59pm EDT
Seminar Tuesday, May 11 @ 8:00am Wednesday, May 26 @ 4:00pm (digital) Monday, June 7 @ 4:00pm (digital)
Seminar: Performance Tasks Digital Portfolio Submission Deadline: Thursday, May 20 @ 11:59pm EDT
Spanish Language and Culture Tuesday, May 11 @ 8:00am Friday, May 21 @ 8:00am Friday, June 4 @ 8:00am
Spanish Literature and Culture Friday, May 7 @ 8:00am Friday, May 21 @ 12:00pm Friday, June 4 @ 12:00pm
Statistics Monday, May 17 @ 12:00pm Tuesday, May 25 @ 12:00pm Thursday, June 10 @ 4:00pm (digital)
U.S. Government and Politics Monday, May 3 @ 8:00am Thursday, May 20 @ 12:00pm (digital) Thursday, June 3 @ 12:00pm (digital)
U.S. History Thursday, May 6 @ 8:00am Wednesday, May 19 @ 12:00pm (digital) Wednesday, June 2 @ 12:00pm (digital)
World History: Modern Monday, May 10 @ 8:00am Thursday, May 20 @ 12:00pm (digital) Thursday, June 3 @ 12:00pm (digital)

Test Format

The AP Exams are 2-3 hours long and are designed to test students’ mastery of content and skill sets. Most exams consist of both multiple-choice and free-response questions.  Some AP Exams require students to complete performance tasks, either in place of or in addition to multiple-choice and free-response questions. These include AP Computer Science Principles, AP Research, AP Seminar, and AP Art & Design.

Due to the pandemic, the College Board is offering multiple test formats for the 2021 AP Exams. In the past, all AP Exams have been administered in-person, as paper-to-pencil tests, with the exception of AP Chinese and AP Japanese language which are in-school, computer-based tests.

This year, AP Exams are offered in two formats: paper-to-pencil (in-person) and digitally (at-home or in-school).  Schools are responsible for choosing when students take each AP Exam, and the date on which students take the exam will determine the exam’s format. If students are taking a digital exam, the school will decide if they are to take the exam in-school or at-home.

To view test dates and corresponding test formats, please click here.

Scoring

The multiple-choice sections of the AP Exams are scored digitally. For the free-response questions and performance tasks, the College Board consults with experienced AP teachers and college professors to score each exam. A rubric is developed for each question. The score cutoffs of each rubric take into account a number of factors, including: previous years’ scoring percentiles, the difficulty level of the multiple-choice questions and other free-response questions, the overall quality of answers in the entire pool of test-takers, and how college students fare on the exam.  AP scores are released in July.

AP Exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score possible. The College Board defines the scores as follows:

AP Exam Score Recommendation College Course Grade Equivalent
5 Extremely well qualified A+ or A
4 Very well qualified A-, B+, or B
3 Qualified B-, C+, or C
2 Possibly qualified —-
1 No recommendation —-

 

AP Exam scores are released in July.

Colleges and universities often use high scores for course credit, and/or as a method of placement in order to exempt students from lower-level prerequisites. Additionally, AP scores play a significant role in the college admissions process.

Score Curves

The score curves vary from test to test. See the table below for more detailed scoring information.

AP Exam Score Curves – May 2019

Subject % of 5 % of 4 % of 3 % of 2 % of 1 Number of Students
Art History 11.9 24.6 26.6 24.7 12.2 24,476
Biology 7.2 22.2 35.3 26.6 8.8 260,816
Calculus AB 19.1 18.7 20.6 23.3 18.3 300,659
Calculus BC 43.0 18.5 19.5 13.9 5.2 139,195
Chemistry 11.5 16.6 27.5 23.0 21.4 158,847
Chinese Language 60.1 14.9 14.8 4.0 6.2 13,853
Comparative Government & Politics 22.4 24.4 19.2 18.7 15.3 23,522
Computer Science A 26.7 21.9 21.0 11.9 18.4 69,685
Computer Science Principles 13.8 21.0 37.1 18.8 9.3 96,105
English Language 9.9 18.2 26.2 31.2 14.5 573,171
English Literature 6.2 15.7 27.8 34.3 16.0 380,136
Environmental Science 9.4 25.7 14.1 25.4 25.4 172,456
European History 11.7 20.5 25.9 29.4 12.5 100,655
French Language 16.1 25.3 35.7 18.2 4.7 23,249
German Language 21.0 24.2 27.2 19.5 8.2 5,160
Human Geography 10.8 18.2 20.1 16.7 34.1 225,235
Italian Language 13.6 18.1 34.4 24.6 9.3 2,658
Japanese Language 45.3 12.4 21.6 7.7 13.0 2,479
Latin 13.0 19.3 30.5 24.1 13.0 6,083
Macroeconomics 19.1 23.0 16.9 14.9 26.2 146,091
Microeconomics 24.3 28.1 17.2 12.0 18.4 91,551
Music Theory 21.2 17.9 24.5 23.5 12.8 18,864
Physics 1 6.7 18.2 20.5 28.7 25.9 161,071
Physics 2 14.2 21.0 30.2 26.2 8.4 23,802
Physics C: E&M 37.6 22.6 12.7 16.6 10.4 25,342
Physics C: Mechanics 37.7 26.7 17.4 10.0 8.2 57,131
Psychology 20.5 25.3 18.7 13.5 22.0 311,215
Research 10.7 22.2 43.0 19.5 4.6 15,724
Seminar 7.1 15.1 58.9 16.6 2.3 43,441
Spanish Language 25.2 34.2 29.4 9.5 1.8 187,133
Spanish Literature 9.5 25.0 37.7 21.4 6.3 29,345
Statistics 14.7 18.4 26.6 19.3 21.0 219,392
Studio Art: Drawing 20.8 33.3 37.0 7.8 1.1 21,769
Studio Art: 2-D Design 21.0 31.5 34.0 10.8 2.8 37,749
Studio Art: 3-D Design 10.0 22.4 37.5 25.7 4.3 6,040
U.S. Government & Politics 12.9 12.4 29.8 24.8 20.1 314,825
U.S. History 11.8 18.4 23.4 22.0 24.3 496,573
World History 8.6 18.8 28.0 28.8 15.8 313,317

AP Exam Score Curves – May 2020

Subject % of 5 % of 4 % of 3 % of 2 % of 1 Number of Students
Art and Design: Drawing 15.5 40.3 33.2 9.8 1.2 20,486
Art and Design: 2-D 12.1 36.1 41.3 9.8 0.6 36,901
Art and Design: 3-D 7.2 31.9 36.5 20.9 3.5 5,281
Art History 15.8 24.9 28 21.3 10 23,567
Biology 9.5 22.7 36.9 24.1 6.9 233,444
Calculus AB 19.5 20.9 21 24.1 14.5 266,430
Calculus BC 44.6 17.6 19.4 14.1 4.3 127,864
Chemistry 10.6 18.6 26.9 24 19.9 145,540
Chinese Language 55.4 15.5 17.9 5.1 6.1 14,663
Comparative Government & Politics 24.4 27.4 18.4 17.3 12.5 22,051
Computer Science A 25.6 21.7 23.2 12.8 16.8 70,580
Computer Science Principles 10.9 23.6 37.1 19.8 8.6 116,751
English Language 12.6 20.4 29.1 26.2 11.8 535,478
English Literature 9.3 17.3 33.5 27.8 12.2 333,980
Environmental Science 11.9 28.5 13 25.5 21 162,469
European History 13.7 20.1 25.5 29.2 11.5 94,312
French Language 23.3 31.7 28.3 12.3 4.4 21,701
German Language 23.9 33.9 16 19.5 6.7 4,928
Human Geography 11.8 22.4 24.8 10.9 30.1 218,333
Italian Language 18.5 16.8 40.1 19.5 5.1 2,518
Japanese Language 53.7 9.6 20.3 7.7 8.8 2,581
Latin 16.5 20.4 32.3 17.9 12.9 5,850
Macroeconomics 19.7 25 18.5 16.2 20.5 122,639
Microeconomics 23.3 29 16.6 14.2 16.9 82,415
Music Theory 24.2 19.3 25.7 22 8.8 16,550
Physics 1 8.8 17.9 24.8 26.5 21.9 149,488
Physics 2 14 24.3 35 21.3 5.4 21,835
Physics C: E&M 40.4 22.4 11.6 16.2 9.5 23,655
Physics C: Mechanics 41.6 26.4 16.3 9.2 6.5 51,718
Psychology 22.4 25.4 23.5 9.6 19.1 295,621
Research 8.8 32.1 31.5 25 2.5 20,055
Seminar 6.4 14.5 59.8 17 2.2 52,562
Spanish Language 30.5 36.4 23.1 8.8 1.2 168,998
Spanish Literature 17.6 18.6 38.8 20.7 4.3 24,137
Statistics 16.2 20.7 23.1 21.7 18.3 187,741
U.S. Government & Politics 15.5 16.5 25.5 22 20.5 293,196
U.S. History 13 19.2 26.6 20.4 21 472,697
World History 9.2 22.8 28.2 26.1 13.7 302,942

Test Registration

The College Board’s deadline for AP Exam registration has been extended to March 12, 2021.

Students register for the AP Exams through their school. If students have any questions, they should contact their school’s AP coordinator.

If students are not taking the AP Exams through their school, they can still register!  This might be the case if: 

  • A student would like to take an AP Exam that not offered at their school
  • A student’s school does not offer AP Courses
  • A student is home-schooled
  • A student is taking an AP Exam without having taken the corresponding course

Here’s what these students need to do:

  1. Search the AP Course Ledger to find a school where students might be able to take specific AP Exams. After finding schools closeby that offer the test, call them directly, ask to speak with the AP coordinator, and find out whether the school is planning to allow outside students to test there this year.
  2. The AP coordinator will take care of ordering exam materials, communicating test-day information, and collecting exam fees.

Please note that schools often have their own deadlines and policies for receiving requests from outside students. It’s best to contact them as soon as possible!

For more information, please click here to visit the College Board website.

 

Accommodations

Students who have been approved for College Board accommodations for the PSAT and SAT will receive the same accommodations for AP Exams.

Students who receive accommodations in-school will most likely be approved for similar accommodations on the AP Exams. Students should contact their school directly to confirm that they have been approved for accommodations on the AP Exams. For more information, click here.

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