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2016 AP Exam Score Distributions

Total Registration will once again compile the AP exam score distributions as the College Board releases them beginning in June. In the meantime, we encourage you to check out the distributions from the previous years.

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AP Score Distributions 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011

This table is sortable by clicking on the header - Clicking on an Exam Name will show a comparison of the score distributions for all years compiled

Exam 5 4 3 2 1 3+ Date Tweeted Trevor's Comments
2-D Art and Design 14.3% 33.0% 35.1% 15.4% 2.2% 82.4% Jun 17
  • Across the various AP Studio Art portfolio types, students achieved solid increases in the % of portfolios earning scores of 3+ this year.
  • Perfect scores of 72/72 points for 5 students in 2D Design
  • We’ll be posting sample AP Studio Art portfolios here – you can check out recent years’ samples now:
3-D Art and Design 13.2% 25.8% 35.7% 22.3% 3.0% 74.7% Jun 17
  • Across the various AP Studio Art portfolio types, students achieved solid increases in the % of portfolios earning scores of 3+ this year.
  • Perfect scores of 72/72 points for 2 students in 3D Design
  • We’ll be posting sample AP Studio Art portfolios here – you can check out recent years’ samples now:
AP Research 11.7% 16.3% 39.7% 30.7% 1.6% 67.7% Jun 23
  • This year, ~2,700 students were the first to take the brand new AP Capstone Research course, developed at the request of college admissions.
  • The AP Research score is based on an academic paper, presentation, and oral defense. Here are the details:
  • Students did some amazing AP Research work this yr: creating a prosthetic hand for an Iraqi vet, internet access for Syrian refugees, etc.
  • 38 students achieved perfect scores of 80/80 on their AP Research academic paper, presentation, and oral defense.
AP Seminar 6.6% 12.8% 53.7% 21.6% 5.3% 73.1% Jun 23
  • 1 student earned a perfect score of 246/246 pts across all the AP Seminar tasks: individual & team projects/presentations, essay, exam.
  • Scores are both up and down from last year: increases in 4s, 5s, and 1s.
  • Students are ninjas of argument, with 50% earning all 6/6 points on Q2, which required them to identify claims and connections.
  • The most challenging task for AP Seminar students: Section II: synthesizing evidence to create an argument:
Art History 11.1% 22.6% 27.7% 27.6% 11.0% 61.4% Jun 24
  • Scores of 3+ on the redesigned AP Art History Exam are ~4 percentage pts higher than on the legacy exam; great work by teachers/students.
  • Multiple-choice: weakest scores on questions about art of indigenous Americas & Asia – more focus on those works needed.
  • Multiple-choice: strongest scores on questions about art of Africa & Later European/American.
  • Free-response: students scored very well on Q3 (Nimes attribution) & Q4 (Monet’s Saint-Lazare Station).
  • Toughest AP Art History free-response question for students was on relics from Conques / Cameroon:
  • I visited Conques last summer; people said many AP Art History teachers had visited in prep to add the great church/reliquary to the course.
  • Since this year’s AP Art History Exam is brand new, we’ve posted many details about the standards for teachers here:…
Biology 6.3% 20.6% 33.6% 29.2% 10.3% 60.5% Jun 23
  • Good predictor of whether you scored high on this year’s AP Bio exam is how well you did on Q4 (gene expression):
  • AP Biology multiple-choice: students scored very well on Big Idea 2 (cellular processes), and least well on Science Prac 2 (using math).
  • AP Biology grid-ins that require mathematical calculation: students performed quite poorly: more than 50% earned 0 or 1 pt out of 5.
  • AP Biology free-response: best performance was on Q1 (allele frequencies), followed by Q5 (obligate mutualism).
  • Ppoor performance on Q7 (chromosomal inheritance; ~66% earned 0 pts) & Q8 (effect of exercise; ~50% earned 0 pts).
Calculus AB 24.4% 17.4% 17.6% 9.7% 30.9% 59.4% Jun 13
  • These don't yet include the scores from outside North America.
  • The AP Calculus AB data are in: students demonstrated stronger skills this year than last, achieving a higher % of 3s, 4s, & especially 5s.
  • Among the AP Calc AB free-response questions, the highest mean score was on Q4 (slope field):
  • Many students struggled with Q2, 3, & esp 5 (modeling volume / related rates), w/31% earning 0 pts on it: 
  • 11 students, out of 310,000, earned perfect scores of 108/108 points on this year’s exam.
Calculus BC 48.4% 15.5% 17.6% 5.9% 12.6% 81.5% Jun 13
  • These don’t yet include the scores from outside North America.
  • Congrats to AP Calculus BC teachers & students: the strongest performance in years, so a significant growth in the % of students earning 5s.
  • Lowest mean score on AP Calc BC: Q6 (Taylor series); many also found Q2 (parametric particle motion) tough:
  • 2 students, out of 125,000, earned perfect scores of 108/108 points possible on this year’s AP Calculus BC Exam.
Chemistry 9.7% 15.1% 27.5% 25.3% 22.4% 52.3% Jun 15
  • Students have shown slightly stronger mastery of AP Chemistry this year than last year’s group did, increasing the % of 5s in particular.
  • Students generally scored best on Big Ideas 1&2, lowest on Big Idea 3 (transformation).
  • In the Free-Response section, AP Chemistry students performed best on Q5 (kinetics/gas laws: butadiene).
  • FRQ6 on equilibrium/stoichiometry (EDTA) stumped the majority of students; 73% earned 0 points on it:
Chinese Lang. and Culture 62.1% 16.6% 14.7% 2.7% 3.9% 93.4% Jun 20
  • AP Chinese continues to grow, following AP Spanish and AP French as the most commonly-taken AP world language.
  • This year, AP Chinese students scored well on the conversation task, and least well on the cultural presentation:
  • AP Chinese illustrates the fact that AP exams are not normed/curved; 93% scored 3+, since all students who earn the points get 3+.
  • In the multiple-choice section, AP Chinese students' highest scores were typically on the reading-based questions.
Computer Science A 20.7% 20.4% 23.2% 12.5% 23.2% 64.3% Jun 22
  • Once again, AP Computer Sci = the fastest growing of all AP courses this yr; great to see more schools providing this critical opportunity.
  • Students did quite well across all topics in the multiple-choice questions, esp. logic/software eng/recursion.
  • In order to get a 3+, students need to earn pts on the FRQs; students getting 1s/2s can’t do much w/these:…
  • 5 students, out of ~50,000, earned perfect scores of 80/80 points possible, on this year’s AP Computer Science A Exam.
Drawing 16.8% 27.2% 38.9% 14.7% 2.4% 82.9% Jun 17
  • Across the various AP Studio Art portfolio types, students achieved solid increases in the % of portfolios earning scores of 3+ this year.
  • Perfect scores of 72/72 points for 21 students in Drawing.
  • We’ll be posting sample AP Studio Art portfolios here – you can check out recent years’ samples now:
English Language 10.6% 17.5% 27.2% 32.1% 12.6% 55.3% Jun 23
  • AP English Lang is largest of all AP subjects; 23K more participated this yr, so it’s all the more impressive that there's a higher % of 5s
  • As is typical, AP English Lang students scored higher on 20th-century prose than earlier prose passages.
  • 1 student, out of ~550,000, achieved a perfect score of 150/150 points possible on this year’s AP English Language exam.
  • Of the 3 AP Eng Lang essays, students found the Thatcher analysis (FRQ2) just a bit more difficult than the others:
English Literature 7.4% 17.7% 29.5% 33.4% 12.0% 54.6% Jun 20
  • This year’s AP English Literature performance was the lowest in the past 5 years, resulting in a decrease in scores of 3+ by ~2 % pts.
  • Students continue to find analyzing poetry more difficult than prose, in both the MC and FR sections of the exam.
  • In the FR section of the AP English Lit exam, the highest mean score was on Q2, the Hardy analysis; some very good work on this passage.
  • The most frequent score on all three of these AP English Lit essays was 4 out of 9 points possible:
Environmental Science 7.4% 23.0% 14.8% 26.0% 28.8% 45.2% Jun 14
  • AP Env Sci students generally scored very well across the MC section, esp on: population; energy resources & consumption; the living world.
  • Low performance on these AP Env Science FRQs, particularly 2 (iron) & 4 (soil), kept many students from earning 3+:
European History 7.9% 16.2% 29.5% 34.2% 12.2% 53.6% Jun 23
  • Since AP European History has a new exam this year, there's a detailed memo about results, posted for teachers here: (needs an AP European History Teacher Community login)
  • AP European History multiple-choice performance was solid, except on questions related to 1914-present.
  • Students found Q3 on the development of railroads very easy, many earning all points possible on it.
  • On the AP European History Bismarck DBQ, ~3% of students earned all 7/7 points possible; most frequent score: 1/7.
French Language 17.3% 26.5% 32.6% 18.7% 4.9% 76.4% Jun 23
  • Yet another subject with score improvements this year: AP French Language & Culture teachers/students have achieved an increase in %4s/5s.
  • Students generally performed best on the presentational speaking (cultural comparison) section of the exam.
  • The most challenging section of the AP French Exam for many students was the spoken conversation in Part B:
German Language 20.7% 22.3% 27.1% 20.9% 9.0% 70.1% Jun 23
  • Bigger score declines in AP German than any subject so far this year – a large drop of 7 percentage points in scores of 3+.
  • That said, performance on AP German remains stronger than it is in most other AP subjects, as you can see from the score spread.
  • Where AP German students scored lowest this year: reading passages in the multiple-choice section.
Government and Politics, Comp. 20.6% 21.2% 20.4% 21.5% 16.3% 62.2% Jun 16
  • The biggest score increases of any subject so far this year: AP Comparative Government, jumping from 15% 5s in 2015 to 20% 5s this year.
  • AP Comp Govt students scored very well on FRQs 3 (correlation/causation) & 6 (authoritarian/democratic regimes):
  • Only exceptions to otherwise stellar work on AP Comparative Govt: nearly half bombed FRQ2 (Russian protests) & 4 (China’s 1-child policy).
  • I can't single out a favorite among the 38 AP courses, but AP Comp Govt is definitely Top 10 for me. Great to see such results this year! Of the 6 countries in AP Comp Gov (Britain, China, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia), I’m curious which teachers/students most enjoy studying.
Government and Politics, US 11.9% 20.0% 19.8% 19.2% 29.1% 51.7% Jun 16
  • Last year, 3 students earned perfect scores of 120/120 points possible on the AP US Government & Politics exam; this year, 25 students have!
  • Students scored very well on FRQ4 re: the Constitution and FRQ1 re: linkage institutions. 
  • By far the most difficult question on AP US Govt was FRQ2 (demographic changes); 27% of students scored 0 on it:
Human Geography 11.9% 20.0% 19.8% 19.2% 29.1% 51.7% Jun 14
  • While AP Human Geo students generally scored lowest on MC questions on industrialization, they still scored well across the MC section.
  • Students generally scored best on FRQ3 (agriculture types); 7,000 students got all 7 pts on FRQ3:
Italian Language and Culture 21.8% 18.9% 31.0% 20.2% 8.1% 71.7% Jun 23
  • Great work in AP Italian classrooms this year, with scores of 3+ jumping by nearly 7 percentage points, & participation grew by >10%!
  • Unsurprisingly, AP Italian students performed slightly better on reading-based questions than listening-based ones.
  • Students scored very well on FRQ1 (email chat), but many struggled w/the cultural presentation (FRQ4):
Japanese Lang. and Culture 52.9% 7.1% 19.8% 6.2% 14.0% 79.8% Jun 20
  • Students demonstrated stronger proficiency in AP Japanese this year, so the % of 5s is growing significantly.
  • Once again, this “text chat” was the most difficult part of the AP Japanese Exam for many students:
  • AP Japanese students generally earned highest scores in the free-response section on the cultural presentation:
Latin 12.8% 20.7% 32.2% 23.1% 11.2% 65.7% Jun 23
  • Stronger performance in AP Latin this year – a 4 point bump in the % of scores earning 3+.
  • AP Latin multiple-choice: students performed best on the syllabus reading from Caesar, and least well on the Caesar sight reading.
  • AP Latin free-response: good performance on all questions, especially Q3, the analytical essay on Neptune/Iarbas:
  • 1 student, out of ~6,500, earned a perfect score of 100/100 points possible on the AP Latin Exam this year.
Macroeconomics 16.1% 23.4% 16.2% 17.5% 26.8% 55.7% Jun 10
  • AP Macroeconomics continues to see score increases: the % of 3,4,5s is higher than 5 years ago & 50% more students are participating.
  • Students did extremely well on multiple-choice, esp on economic growth; most challenging were the financial sector questions.
  • More than a third of the students aced this FRQ3 on specialization & trade, earning all 5 pts possible: More than 40% of the students found FRQ2 on loans/demand deposits extremely difficult, earning 0 pts:
  • 28 students worldwide (out of 135,000) earned all 90 points possible on this year’s AP Macroeconomics exam.
Microeconomics 15.3% 27.3% 23.0% 14.4% 20.0% 65.6% Jun 10
  • Scores are generally lower this year than last, but still higher than 5 yrs ago when 50% fewer participated.
  • Students did quite well across multiple-choice questions; the most challenging were on firm behavior and market structure.
  • Scores were generally highest on FRQ2 (consumer choice) & lowest on FRQ3 (monopolistic competition):
  • 47 students worldwide (out of 83,000) earned all 90 points possible on this year’s exam.
Music Theory 18.1% 17.2% 24.2% 26.0% 14.5% 59.5% Jun 24
  • Lower levels of mastery demonstrated in AP Music Theory this year, reducing the percentage earning 3+ by about 2 % points.
  • Multiple-choice: students generally scored better on questions without aural stimulus than those with aural stimulus.
  • students generally scored best on FRQ5: partwriting from a figured bass:
  • By far the most difficult question for AP Music Theory students was FRQ2 (melodic dictation), ~60% earned 0-2 out of 9 points on it.
Physics 1 - Algebra Based 4.3% 13.6% 21.3% 30.7% 30.1% 39.2% Jun 15
  • While the exam was challenging for many, AP Physics 1 scores improved over last year: an increase of 2.3% in scores of 3+ in North America.
  • The AP Physics data don't yet include international students, which typically boost AP Physics scores of 3+ by another % point or two.
  • Multiple-choice questions on Science Practice 5 (Data Analysis & Evaluation) posed the greatest challenge to students.
  • FRQ1 (rotation/forces) & Q5 (waves) scored lowest; half of students earned no more than 1 of 7 pts:
  • 1 student, out of ~150,000 scored so far, earned a perfect score of 80/80 pts on this year’s exam. No student had yet done so.
Physics 2 - Algebra Based 8.5% 16.7% 34.3% 32.3% 8.2% 59.5% Jun 15
  • Despite a 25% growth in participation, AP Physics 2 scores increased significantly: scores of 3+ increased by 4.2 percentage pts over 2015.
  • Students scored very well on the MC questions, particularly on BI5 (conservation laws); least well on BI6 (wave models/apps).
  • Fairly low scores on the four AP Physics 2 FRQs: 25%, 42%, 29%, and 33% were the average pts earned, in that order:
Physics C E&M 32.0% 22.6% 13.5% 19.3% 12.6% 68.1% Jun 16
  • Usually, we don’t see so much score improvement from year to year; trend continues w/Physics C:E&M: a significant boost in %5s over 2015.
  • Scores were highest on this FRQ2 (circuits):
  • Students struggled with FRQ3 (magnetostatics), with 60% earning 3 or fewer pts (out of 15) on it.
  • 1 student, out of 27,000, earned all 90/90 points possible on this year’s AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism exam.
Physics C Mech. 30.2% 27.4% 18.5% 13.9% 10.0% 76.1% Jun 15
  • Interesting pattern in AP Physics C: Mechanics this year: a shift in student performance to many more 5s, a few more 2s, & fewer 3s, 4s, 1s.
  • Students generally did very well on FRQ1 (Newton’s laws; kinematics), > than a fourth of them earning most of the pts.
  • Many AP Physics C Mech students struggled w/FRQ3 (rotation; energy; Newton’s laws), a third of them earning no more than 1 point.
  • 1 student, out of 53,000, earned a perfect score of 90/90 pts on this year’s AP Physics C: Mechanics exam.
Psychology 19.0% 26.1% 19.1% 14.2% 21.6% 64.2% Jun 20
  • AP Psychology scores remained quite similar, even as 20,000 more students gained access worldwide, a testament to good teaching & learning
  • In the multiple-choice section, AP Psychology students earned highest means on social/developmental psych, lowest on abnormal behavior.
  • Students fared much better on Q2 (learning/cognition) than Q1 (sensation/perception):
  • 1 student, out of ~300,000 so far, has earned all 150/150 points on this year’s AP Psychology Exam. Can’t wait to find out who / where…
Spanish Language 28.0% 34.8% 26.9% 9.1% 1.2% 89.7% Jun 23
  • Large expansion of AP Spanish Lang students this yr: scores remained stable in comparison to last yr when 20K fewer students participated.
  • AP Spanish Lang students earned very high scores on the email reply task, FRQ1:
  • The most challenging task for AP Spanish Lang students on this year’s exam was FRQ3, the spoken conversation.
Spanish Literature 8.7% 24.3% 36.7% 22.6% 7.7% 69.7% Jun 21
  • Weaker performance on the AP Spanish Literature Exam this year: a decline of ~4 percentage points in scores of 3+.
  • AP Spanish Literature multiple-choice: the most challenging for students were generally the critical commentary questions.
  • Students scored well on FRQ2, the text & art comparison:…
  • Students generally found FRQs 3 & 4 slightly more difficult than the rest of the exam.
Statistics 13.9% 21.7% 24.7% 15.7% 24.0% 60.3% Jun 21
  • Nice work: students taking AP Statistics this year demonstrated stronger mastery overall, so there’s a solid increase in the % earning 3+.
  • The questions on probability/simulation were the most challenging for many students. Most students got <5 of 10 right.
  • Similarly, the AP Statistics FRQ4 (probability/simulation) was most difficult, w/ ~half of students earning 0/4 pts:
  • The AP Statistics free-response questions’ mean/max scores: Q1: 43%, Q2: 31%; Q3: 39%; Q4: 25%; Q5: 32%; Q6: 40%.
  • 1 student, out of ~200,000, has earned a perfect score of 100/100 points possible on this year’s AP Statistics exam.
United States History 11.7% 17.9% 22.5% 23.4% 24.5% 52.1% Jun 21
  • AP US History students/teachers have perhaps achieved biggest score increases of any subject so far this yr, also w/25K more students. Wow.
  • On this year’s APUSH DBQ question, ~6,000 students (out of 500,000) earned all 7 points possible; ~100,00 students earned 1/7 pts on it.
  • APUSH short answers: highest mean was Q3 (business leaders), and lowest mean was Q1 (immigration) – but similar results across all of them.
  • 1 AP US History student, out of ~500,000, earned a perfect score of 130/130 pts; first time we have seen that achievement in many years.
World History 6.5% 15.5% 29.2% 28.9% 19.9% 51.2% Jun 17
  • Another subject w/score gains this yr: AP World History. Increased % of 3s,4s, decreased % of 1s,2s. % of 5s virtually the same as last yr.
  • Students did well across the multiple-choice questions, finding period 5 (1750-1900) slightly more difficult than the rest.
  • On the AP World History Document-Based Question (DBQ), the average score was 2.96 out of 9 points possible.
  • Why not more 5s on AP World History? Students struggled with both the CCOT & Comparison essays, w/30% of students earning 0 points on them.