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2021 AP Exam Score Distributions

The 2021 preliminary AP Exam Score Distributions include exams taken prior to June 12. Curious About the College Board's Finances? View a summary of the last 13 years of finances. Data was obtained from the College Board's 990s (IRS form for "Not for Profits"). It turns out, they are a very profitable "Not For Profit".

Total Registration has compiled the following scores from Tweets that the College Board's head of AP*, Trevor Packer, has been making during June. These are preliminary breakdowns that may change slightly as late exams are scored.

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AP Score Distributions 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 Date Tweeted Trevor's Comments
2-D Art and Design 10.0% 35.0% 42.0% 12.0% 1.0% Jul 12

The following data reflect all 34,481 students worldwide who created and submitted AP Art and Design 2-D portfolios this year.

Note there were some attempts to submit plagiarized 2-D portfolios this year; students do not realize how easy it is in this day and age for the scoring processes and systems to detect nonoriginal work. Almost all of these plagiarism attempts were submitted by students from outside the United States, and all of those students’ scores are being canceled. There were similar, but more frequent, attempts to submit nonoriginal work in Drawing Portfolio categories.

Of these 34,481 students, 152 achieved every point possible (100 total) from every single professor, artist, and teacher who reviewed their work, an astonishing achievement.

Student performance information - As can be seen in the relatively low percentage of 1s and 2s in comparison to most AP subjects, student performance was generally strong—with little variation across each of the scoring criteria for the Sustained Investigation and the Selected Works sections.

Sustained Investigation: Across the 4 criteria, performance was quite similar, but the following slight variations may be of interest to Art and Design teachers.

  • Students were most able to earn all 6 points possible on the “skills” criterion, which accounts for 20% of the Sustained Investigation score; ~13% of students earned all 6 points on this criterion. But this criterion also had the greatest percentage of students earning less than 3/6 points: ~17% of students.
  • Students were least able to earn all 6 points possible on the “practice, experimentation, and revision” criterion, which accounts for 30% of the Sustained Investigation score; ~8% of students earned all 6 points on that criterion.
  • The highest average scores on any of the 4 criteria were on the “synthesis of materials, processes, and ideas” criterion, which accounts for 30% of the Sustained Investigation score; ~67% of students earned 4–6 points on this criterion.

Selected Works: These five selected works account for 40% of the overall AP portfolio score. Out of the total 40 points possible for this section of the portfolio, 3% of students earned all 40 points. The average score was 24.

3-D Art and Design 7.0% 29.0% 36.0% 25.0% 4.0% Jul 12

The following data reflect all 4,568 students worldwide who created and submitted AP Art and Design 3-D portfolios this year.

Of these 4,568 students, 46 achieved every point possible (100 total) from every single professor, artist, and teacher who reviewed their work, an astonishing achievement.

Student performance information

As can be seen in the relatively low percentage of 1s in comparison to most AP subjects, student performance was generally solid—with little variation across each of the scoring criteria for the Sustained Investigation and the Selected Works sections.

Sustained Investigation: Across the 4 criteria, performance was quite similar, but the following slight variations may be of interest to Art and Design teachers.

  • Students were most able to earn all 6 points possible on the “inquiry” criterion, which accounts for 20% of the Sustained Investigation score; ~15% of students earned all 6 points on this criterion.
  • The lowest-scoring of the 4 criteria was the “skills” criterion, 11% of students earned all 6 points on this criterion, while 22% of students earned less than 3 points.

Selected Works: These five selected works account for 40% of the overall AP portfolio score. Out of the total 40 points possible for this section of the portfolio, 4% of students earned all 40 points. The average score was 24.

AP Research 14.0% 26.0% 42.0% 14.0% 4.0% Jul 20

The following data reflect the 24,049 students worldwide who submitted an AP Research academic paper. Many AP Research students doubled down on their projects during this past challenging year, achieving significantly higher scores than AP Research students in the year prior to the pandemic.

Of these 24,049 students, 375 achieved perfect scores of 80 out of 80 points possible from all professors/teachers across their academic paper and their presentation and oral defense.

The Academic Paper

The following information is specific to the academic paper scored externally at the AP Reading by college professors and AP teachers. Out of 10 points (each of which is then multiplied by 6; the Academic Paper is worth 60 of the 80 points possible for the AP Research score):

  • 10 points: 3% of students
  • 9 points: 6%
  • 8 points: 12%
  • 7 points: 21%
  • 5 points: 12%
  • 4 points: 8%
  • 3 points: 3%
  • 2 points: 3%
  • 1 point: <1%
AP Seminar 11.0% 19.0% 55.0% 11.0% 4.0% Jul 20

The following data reflect the 46,840 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Seminar Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

Of these 46,840 students, 24 achieved perfect scores from all professors/teachers across all projects, tasks, presentations, and essays in the course plus the end-of-course exam, earning all 150 or 150 points possible, a tremendous achievement.

The May 11 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Seminar was May 11, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

Part A: Understanding and analyzing an argument concerning public libraries

  • AP Seminar students demonstrated strong abilities, with 22% earning all or most of the 15 points possible.

Part B: Evidence-based argument essay

  • Students generally scored well across the 4 rows of the rubric, but had more difficulty earning points for selecting and using evidence than for the other 3 rows of the rubric.

The May 26 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  1. Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  2. Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  3. The net result is that for this year’s AP Seminar Exams, most of the digital versions were slightly more difficult than the paper version. Accordingly, to receive a 3+ on the more difficult digital versions, students needed to earn 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 fewer points (depending on the version) than students who took the paper exam.
Art History 11.0% 19.0% 24.0% 30.0% 16.0% Jul 13
  • AP Art History multiple-choice performance was good, and for the first time ever, students demonstrated similar levels of achievement across all geographic regions: the art of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Indigenous Americas, Global Contemporary, etc.
  • If there was one slightly weaker area, it was European art, but not by much. Kudos to AP Art History teachers for this impressive balancing act.
  • This year, despite the pandemic, AP Art History teachers and students erased long-time gaps in performance between questions about architecture, which have always had lower performance than questions about paintings, drawings, sculpture, and other media. This year – no gaps.
  • Do you recognize this building, its architect, and the continuities and changes it represents? AP Art History students mostly could, scoring very well on their short essays about it, with 15% earning perfect scores of 5/5 points possible.
  • The highest scores on this year’s paper AP Art History exam were on the short essay analyzing this incredible piece. (Can you imagine seeing this now before the crowds return to the Vatican Museums?) An astounding 25% of students got perfect scores of 5/5 on these essays.

  • Can you identify a European or American artwork created between 1750-1980 that was influenced by another culture? 35% of AP Art History students could not, and thus earned 0/5 points on the long essay, one of the main reasons for the increase in lower scores this year.

Biology 7.0% 20.0% 34.0% 30.0% 10.0% Jul 15
  • 1 student, out of 212,198 worldwide, achieved a perfect score from all readers on all free-response questions & correctly answered every multiple-choice question, earning all 120 pts possible on the AP Biology Exam.
  • Students demonstrated exceptionally strong mastery of Unit 7, Natural Selection, with 43% of students answering virtually every mc question about this unit correctly.
  • Students’ strongest skill was representing and describing data (Skill Category 4). A massive 33% of students achieved perfect scores on this skill, not missing a single such point on the exam.

 

Calculus AB 18.0% 14.0% 19.0% 25.0% 24.0% Jul 23

The following data reflect the 249,762 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Calculus AB Exam prior to June 12.

It’s important to honor the work of students who did not qualify for a score of 3+, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder, the most recent research on students who achieve a score of 2 in AP Calculus AB found that they proceed to earn significantly higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender. And these outcomes are stronger for AP Calculus AB students who receive a 2 than they are for students receiving 2s in most other AP subjects.

The May 4 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Calculus AB was May 4, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-Choice Section

  • Course Units:
    • AP Calculus AB students demonstrated strongest mastery of Unit 4, Contextual Applications of Differentiation, with 11% of students earning a perfect score across the questions about this unit.
    • Students generally scored least well on Unit 7, Differential Equations, in which 4% of students answered all questions correctly and 9% answered none correctly.
  • Big Ideas:
    • Students generally scored less well on questions about analysis of functions than on questions about change and limits.

Free-Response Section:

 

    • The strongest results were typically on Question 4, the graphical analysis. 14% of students earned 7–9 points out of 9 possible.
    • By far the most challenging question on this year’s exam was Question 3 (area-volume; disc method); 3% of students earned 7–9 points out of 9 possible.

The Digital Exams

To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • The net result for this year’s AP Calculus AB Exams is that out of 108 points possible, some of the digital versions were equivalent in difficulty to the paper versions, and some of the digital versions were slightly more difficult. Accordingly, students taking one of the more difficult digital versions needed to earn 1-5 fewer points, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 4.
Calculus BC 38.0% 17.0% 20.0% 18.0% 7.0% Jul 23

The following data reflect the 124,335 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Calculus BC Exam prior to June 12.

It’s important to honor the work of students who did not qualify for a score of 3+, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder, the most recent research on students who achieve a score of 2 in AP Calculus BC found that they proceed to earn significantly higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender. And these outcomes are stronger for AP Calculus BC students who receive a 2 than they are for students receiving 2s in most other AP subjects.

The May 4 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Calculus BC was May 4, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-Choice Section

  • Course Units:Free-Response Section:
    • AP Calculus BC students generally performed well across units but found Unit 10 (Infinite Sequences and Series) the most challenging, followed by Unit 9 and Unit 6.

       

  • The strongest results were typically on Question 4, the graphical analysis. 35% of students earned 7–9 points out of 9 possible.
  • By far the most challenging questions on this year’s exam were:
    • Question 2, about parametric particle motion; 5% of students earned 7–9 points out of 9 possible; 28% of students earned 0 points.
    • Question 6, integral test-limit; 5% of students earned 7–9 points out of 9 possible; 27% of students earned 0 points.

 

The Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • The net result for this year’s AP Calculus BC Exams is that out of 108 points possible, some of the digital versions were equivalent in difficulty to the paper versions, and some of the digital versions were slightly more difficult. Accordingly, students taking one of the more difficult digital versions needed to earn 1–6 fewer points, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 4.
Chemistry 11.0% 16.0% 24.0% 25.0% 24.0% Jul 20

The following data reflect the 134,316 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Chemistry Exam prior to June 12.

Of these 134,316 students, 2 achieved a perfect score from all professors/readers on all free-response questions and correctly answered every multiple-choice question, resulting in the rare and impressive feat of earning all 100 of 100 points possible on an AP Chemistry Exam.

It’s also important to honor the work of students who did not qualify for a score of 3+, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder, the most recent research on students who achieve a score of 2 in AP Chemistry found that they earn significantly higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender. And these outcomes are stronger for AP Chemistry students who receive a 2 than for students receiving 2s in most other AP subjects

The May 7 In-School Paper Exam

The largest exam date for AP Chemistry was May 7, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Units:
    • AP Chemistry students demonstrated solid mastery of Units 4 (Chemical Reactions) and 5 (Kinetics), with ~15% of students earning a perfect score across all questions about these units.
    • Students generally scored least well on Unit 1 (Atomic Structure and Properties), in which 5% of students answered all questions correctly and 8% answered none correctly; Unit 7 (Equilibrium), and Unit 8 (Acids and Bases).
  • Big Ideas:
    • Students generally demonstrated somewhat stronger understanding of Transformations and Energy than of Scale/Proportion/Quantity and Structure/Properties.
  • Science Practices:
    • Students demonstrated strongest skills on questions that required application of Science Practice 1 (Models and Representations; 11% of students answered every such question correctly) and Science Practice 4 (Model Analysis).
    • Students’ scores would increase with more proficiency on questions related to Science Practice 2 (Question and Method)—somewhat lower than their performance on all other science practices.

Free-response section: The strongest results were typically on:

  • Long Question 2 about silicon spectra; 9% of students earned 8–10 points out of 10 possible
  • Long Question 3 about copper sulfate precipitation; 16% of students earned 8–10 points out of 10 possible.

The Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • The net result for this year’s AP Chemistry Exams is that out of 100 points possible, some of the digital versions were equivalent in difficulty to the paper versions, and for those that were not:
    • On the easiest digital version, a student needed to earn 2 more points to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper versions.
    • On the hardest digital version, a student needed to earn 4 fewer points to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper versions.
Chinese Lang. and Culture 57.0% 15.0% 16.0% 5.0% 7.0% Jul 08
  • The following data reflect all 13,328 students worldwide who took the AP Chinese Language and Culture Exam this year on any exam date prior to June 12.
  • Of these 13,328 students, 51 achieved a perfect score of all 120 of 120 points possible on this year’s exam.
  • The May 14 Exam Questions - The largest exam date for AP Chinese Language was May 14, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date, and does not include heritage speakers’ exam data:
  • Multiple-choice section: Students generally performed well on the multiple-choice questions, with slightly stronger performance on the reading tasks than the listening tasks. The most challenging aspect of the entire exam, more than any of the free-response questions, were the rejoinders, and the multiple-choice questions that required students to demonstrate the skill of making connections, as opposed to those focused on comprehending the text, interpreting the text, or making meaning.
  • Free-response sectionStudents generally scored well throughout the entire free-response section, particularly on the two writing questions (the story narration and the email response).
Computer Science A 25.0% 22.0% 20.0% 12.0% 21.0% Jul 17

The following data reflect the 63,980 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Computer Science A (AP CSA) Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

Of these 63,980 students, 345 students achieved a perfect score from all professors/readers on all free-response questions and correctly answered every multiple-choice question, resulting in the rare and impressive feat of earning all 80 of 80 points possible on an AP Computer Science A Exam.

It’s also important to honor the work of students who did not qualify for a score of 3+, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder,the most recent research on students who achieve a score of 2 in AP Computer Science Afound that they proceed to earn higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender. And these outcomes are stronger for AP CSA students who receive a 2 than they are for students receiving 2s in most other AP subjects.

The May 6 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Computer Science A was May 6, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Units:
    • AP CSA students’ strongest performance was on Unit 4, Iteration. 22% of students earned perfect scores on this unit’s questions.
    • AP CSA students generally demonstrated solid understanding of each unit; the only unit where many students struggled was Unit 10, Recursion. 21% of students couldn’t answer any questions about that unit correctly.
  • Computational Thinking Practices:
    • AP CSA students’ strongest practice was Code Testing; 34% of students earned perfect scores across questions related to this skill.
    • The most challenging skill for students in the multiple-choice section was practice 2, Code Logic. Students generally earned somewhat lower scores on questions that required this practice.

Free-response section:

The May 18 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • AP CSA students scored highest on Q2 (Class). 19% of students earned perfect scores of 9/9 points possible on this question. 23% of students earned 0/9 points.
    • Skill 3A (Write program code to create objects of a class and call methods): 56% of students earned 2 points; 9% of students earned 1 point; 35% of students earned 0 points.
    • Skill 3B (Write program codes to define a new type by creating a class): 26% of students earned 5 points; 21% of students earned 4 points; 10% of students earned 3 points; 10% of students earned 2 points; 7% of students earned 1 point; 26% of students earned 0 points.
    • Skill 3C (Write program codes to satisfy method specifications using expressions, conditional statements, and iterative statements): 40% of students earned 2 points; 23% of students earned 1 point; 37% of students earned 0 points.
  • The most challenging part of this year’s AP CSA Exam was Q4 (2D Array). 13% of students earned perfect scores of 9/9 points possible on this question. 29% of students earned 0/9 points.
    • Skill 3A (Write program code to create objects of a class and call methods): 30% of students earned this point.
    • Skill 3C (Write program codes to satisfy method specifications using expressions, conditional statements, and iterative statements): 25% of students earned 3 points; 25% of students earned 2 points; 14% of students earned 1 point; 36% of students earned 0 points.
    • Skill 3D (Write program code to create, traverse, and manipulate elements in 1D array or ArrayList objects): 55% of students earned this point.
    • Skill 3E (Write program code to create, traverse, and manipulate elements in 2D array objects): 27% of students earned 4 points; 14% of students earned 3 points; 11% of students earned 2 points; 16% of students earned 1 point; 32% of students earned 0 points.
    1. Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
    2. Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
    3. Differences in versions of the exam. The net result for this year’s AP CSA Exams is that out of 80 points possible, about half of the digital versions were more difficult than the paper version, some of the digital versions were easier than the paper version, and some of the digital versions had the same difficult as the paper version. As a result:
      1. On the easiest digital version, a student needed to earn 3 more points to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
      2. On the hardest digital version, a student needed to earn 5 fewer points to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
Computer Science Principles 13.0% 22.0% 32.0% 20.0% 13.0% Jul 16

The following data reflect the 102,610 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Computer Science Principles Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

Of these 102,610 students, 281 students earned all 100 of 100 points possible across their Create tasks and the end-of-course exam.

The May 17 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Computer Science Principles was May 17, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

  • Course Units:
    • AP Computer Science Principles students earned especially high scores on questions about Big Idea 4 (Computer Systems and Networks) and Big Idea 5 (Impact of Computing). A whopping 47% of students earned virtually every point possible in these areas.
    • Student performance across Big Ideas 1–3 was also solid.
    • The most challenging items were algorithm questions with no code. 17% of students earned 0–1 point(s) on these questions, and 8% of students answered all of them correctly.
  • Computational Thinking Practices:
    • Students scored highest on questions related to Practice 5, investigating computing innovations. 30% of students answered virtually all these questions correctly.
    • The most challenging practice for students was Practice 2, developing and implementing algorithms

The Create Task

  • 11% of students earned perfect scores of 6/6 points possible on the Create task.
  • 52% of students earned the point for program purpose and function.
  • 72% earned the point for data abstraction.
  • 38% earned the point for managing complexity.
  • 48% earned the point for procedural abstraction.
  • 44% earned the point for algorithm implementation.
  • 40% earned the point for testing.

The May 26 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  1. Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  2. Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  3. The net result for this year’s AP Computer Science Principles exams is that out of 100 points possible, the digital versions were more difficult than the paper version. As a result, depending on the digital version the student received, the student needed to earn 10–14 fewer points than students who took the paper version, to receive an AP score of 3 or higher.
Drawing 14.0% 38.0% 35.0% 12.0% 1.0% Jul 12

The following data reflect all 18,907 students worldwide who created and submitted AP Art and Design Drawing portfolios this year.

Note there was a significant increase in students (800+) attempting to submit plagiarized Drawing portfolios this year; students do not realize how easy it is in this day and age for the scoring processes and systems to detect nonoriginal work. Almost all of these plagiarism attempts were submitted by students from outside the United States, and all of those students’ scores are being canceled. There were similar, but much less frequent, attempts to submit non-original work in the 2-D and 3-D Portfolio categories.

Of these 18,907 students, 219 achieved every point possible (100 total) from every single professor, artist, and teacher who reviewed their work, an astonishing achievement.

Student performance information - As can be seen in the relatively low percentage of 1s and 2s in comparison to most AP subjects, student performance was generally strong—with little variation across each of the scoring criteria for the Sustained Investigation and the Selected Works sections.

Sustained Investigation: Across the 4 criteria, performance was quite similar, but the following slight variations may be of interest to Art and Design teachers.

  • Students were most able to earn all 6 points possible on the “skills” criterion, which accounts for 20% of the Sustained Investigation score; ~17% of students earned all 6 points on this criterion.
  • Students were least able to earn all 6 points possible on the “practice, experimentation, and revision” criterion, which accounts for 30% of the Sustained Investigation score; ~11% of students earned all 6 points on that criterion.
  • The highest average scores on any of the 4 criteria were on the “synthesis of materials, processes, and ideas” criterion, which accounts for 30% of the Sustained Investigation score; more than 70% of students earned 4–6 points on this criterion.

Selected Works: These five selected works account for 40% of the overall AP portfolio score. Accordingly, out of the total 40 points possible for this section of the portfolio, 5% of students earned all 40 points. The average score was 26.

There’s no more gorgeous operational process than the AP Art & Design “Reading” -- such incredible work from so many students. Professors select work for an annual exhibit; this year’s selected works will be revealed soon, but here are last year’s glories. spr.ly/6015ykP9d

English Language 8.0% 23.0% 26.0% 31.0% 12.0% Jul 20

The following data reflect the 476,735 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP English Language exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

Of these 476,735 students, 11 achieved a perfect score from all professors/readers on all essays and correctly answered every multiple-choice question, resulting in the rare and impressive feat of earning all 100 of 100 points possible on an AP English Language Exam.

Identities of the 2021 AP English Language Exams’ Cited Authors - Across the exam versions administered in 2021, 61.8% of the cited texts’ authors identified as non-White, 50.5% of the authors identified as female:

US Census Category Authors within the 2021 Exams
Asian (5.9%) 8 (7.3%)
Black (13.4%) 36 (32.7%)
Latinx (18.5%) 14 (12.7%)
Indigenous (1.5%) 10 (9.1%)
White (60.1%) 42 (38.2%)
Female (50.8%) 56 (50.5%)
Male (49.2%) 55 (49.5%)

The May 12 In-School Paper Exam The largest exam date for AP English Language was May 12, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

 

Multiple-choice section:

Skills:

  • AP English Language students proved especially adept at Skill 3, Reasoning and Organization, which requires students to understand the development of an author’s argument. A stellar 35% of students were able to answer virtually all of these multiple-choice questions correctly.
  • The most challenging skill for AP English Language students was Skill 4, Style. Questions ask students to recognize the stylistic choices an author makes and how they contribute to an argument. About 8% of students were able to answer all or most of these multiple-choice questions correctly.

Free-response section:

Students scored exceptionally well on the synthesis essay on the place of handwriting instruction in today’s schools: 8% of students achieved perfect scores on it, and:

Synthesis essay on the place of handwriting instruction in today’s schools

  • 98% of students earned the thesis point.
  • 26% of students earned all 4 evidence/commentary points; 44% earned 3 points; 23% earned 2 points; 5% earned 1 point; 2% earned 0 points.
  • 14% of students earned the sophistication point.

Rhetorical analysis essay on President Obama’s address at the dedication of the Rosa Parks statue in the United States Capitol building

  • 90% of students earned the thesis point.
  • 17% of students earned all 4 evidence/commentary points; 37% earned 3 points; 31% earned 2 points; 11% earned 1 point; 4% earned 0 points.
  • 12% of students earned the sophistication point.

Argument essay on the value of striving for perfection

  • 97% of students earned the thesis point.
  • 14% of students earned all 4 evidence/commentary points; 31% earned 3 points; 37% earned 2 points; 14% earned 1 point; 4% earned 0 points.
  • 6% of students earned the sophistication point.

The May 26 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • The net result for this year’s AP English Language Exams is that out of 100 points possible, most of the digital versions were slightly or somewhat more difficult than the paper version, while a few of the digital versions were easier or similar to the paper version. Accordingly:
    • To receive a 3+ on the more difficult digital versions, students needed to earn 1–6 fewer points (depending on the version) than students who took the paper exam.
    • To receive a 3+ on the easier digital versions, students needed to earn 1–2 more points (depending on the version) than students who took the paper exam.
English Literature 5.0% 12.0% 27.0% 39.0% 17.0% Jul 13

The following data reflect the 297,009 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP English Literature Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

Of these 297,009 students, 3 achieved a perfect score from all professors/readers on all essays and correctly answered every multiple-choice question, resulting in the rare and impressive feat of earning all 120 of 120 points possible on an AP English Literature Exam.

Identities of the 2021 AP English Literature Exams’ Cited Authors - Across the exam versions administered in 2021, 45% of the cited texts’ authors identified as non-white, 54% of the authors identified as female.

The May 5 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP English Literature was May 5, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

Students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on their essays, which continue to limit the percentage of exams achieving scores of 3 or higher.

Multiple-choice section - Big Ideas and Skills:

  • Students scored exceptionally well on questions asking them to analyze character or setting (Big Ideas 1 and 2), or to recognize the function of a particular character (Skill category 1). Students’ abilities on such questions are sky high, a real testament to the ways teachers have helped students practice and become proficient at analyzing details about characters in texts
  • Students also scored very well on questions asking them about figurative language (Big Idea 5), or about the function of word choice, imagery, and symbols (Skill Category 5).
  • On questions about the function of comparison (Skill Category 6), it’s clear that many students have mastered this skill; a whopping 16% answered all of these questions correctly.
  • The one Big Idea and Skill Category that lags significantly behind the others, and that would boost scores quite a bit if students could get this skill to the same level as their others, is the ability to recognize how a narrator’s or speaker’s perspective controls a text’s details and emphases (Big Idea 4); students scored significantly lower on questions about Skill Category 4, the function of the narrator or speaker, than on other skill categories.
  • As is usual, students scored lower on multiple-choice questions about poetry than prose.

Free-response section:  This is the first year I’ve ever seen the poetry analysis essay receive the highest scores of any of the 3 essays, outpacing the prose analysis essay and, even more surprisingly, the “reader’s choice” literary argument essay. That said, the performance differences are very narrow, indicating that students had developed very similar levels of proficiency this year across these various modes of analysis and explication. So despite all the other challenges of 2020-21, poetry did not take its usual backseat to prose in student essay performance this year. Nice work.

  • Essay #1: Analysis of Ai’s poem “The Man with the Saxophone”
    • 85% of students earned the thesis point
    • 98% of students earned one or more of the evidence/commentary points
    • 7% of students earned the sophistication point
  • Essay #2: Analysis of an excerpt from Winton’s Breath
    • 90% of students earned the thesis point
    • 93% of students earned one or more of the evidence/commentary points
    • 6% of students earned the sophistication point
  • Essay #3: House as symbol
    • 79% of students earned the thesis point
    • 95% of students were able to earn one or more of the evidence/commentary points
    • 5% of students earned the sophistication point

The May 18 Digital Exams  - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • The net result for this year’s AP English Literature Exams is that out of 120 points possible, the digital exams proved slightly easier than the paper, so to adjust for that variation in difficulty:
    • To receive a 5 on the digital versions, students needed to earn 1–5 more points (depending on the difficulty of the version) than students who took the paper exam.
    • To receive a 4 on the digital versions, students needed to earn 2–6 more points (depending on the difficulty of the version) than students who took the paper exam.
    • To receive a 3 on the digital versions, students needed to earn 0–6 more points (depending on the difficulty of the version) than students who took the paper exam.
Environmental Science 6.0% 24.0% 18.0% 28.0% 23.0% Jul 15

The following data reflect the 149,106 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Environmental Science Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

The May 14 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Environmental Science was May 14, so the following information is specific to the exams administered on that date.

As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions. In fact, the difference between multiple-choice and free-response performance on the AP Environmental Science Exam is the largest of any subject so far this year: on average, in the multiple-choice section students are earning twice as many of the points possible as they’re earning in the free-response section (e.g., students who earned 70% of the possible points in the multiple-choice section only earned 35% of the possible points in the free-response section).

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Units:
    • AP Environmental Science students’ mastery of Unit 8, Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution, is astonishing, the highest performance on any unit in any subject so far this year. An amazing 64% of students earned virtually perfect scores on questions about this unit.
    • Performance is generally very strong across all units, except for Unit 1, Ecosystems. 10% of students were unable to answer more than 1 such question correctly, and if student understanding of this unit were as strong as it was of the other units, scores would have been significantly higher.
  • Science Practices:
    • Students’ strongest skill was Practice 3, Text Analysis. A massive 71% of students earned perfect scores across all questions that required that practice.
    • Many students struggled with questions that required Science Practice 4, analysis of research studies and the design of research methods. 10% of students were unable to answer any such questions correctly.
    • Students were also generally weaker at applying Science Practice 6, Mathematical Routines, with fewer correct answers on such questions than on most other multiple-choice categories.

Free-response section:

Most students who took the paper exam took one of two different sets of free-response questions. The following information will be specific to Set 2, the set for which I have such details at this point in the process:

 

  • Question 1: Design an investigation related to soil erosion. The average score on this question was 4 out of 10 points possible. Less than 1% of students earned 9–10 points.
  • Question 2: The decline of amphibian biodiversity. The average score on this question was 4 out of 10 points possible. Less than 2% of students earned 9–10 points.
  • Question 3: Coal and natural gas. The average score on this question was 3 out of 10 points possible. Less than 1% of students earned 9–10 points.

The May 27 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • Differences in versions of the exam. The net result for this year’s AP Environmental Science Exams is that out of 130 points possible, some of the digital versions were more difficult than the paper versions, some of the digital versions were easier than the paper version, and some versions were equivalent in difficulty. As a result:
    • On the easiest digital version, a student needed to earn 6 more points to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
    • On the hardest digital version, a student needed to earn 12 fewer points to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
European History 14.0% 20.0% 25.0% 30.0% 11.0% Jul 15

The following data reflect the 74,202 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP European History Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

It’s also important to honor the work of students who did not qualify for a score of 3+, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder, the most recent research on students who earned a score of 2 on the AP European History Exam found that they proceed to earn higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender.

The May 7 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP European History was May 7, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

As usual, students scored higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Periods/Units:
    • AP European History students scored similarly across all periods of the course, a credit to teachers who are so ably balancing the various epochs and geographies from the Renaissance to the present, from Italy to England.
  • Course Themes:
    • Students performed best on questions related to the themes of economic/commercial developments and cultural/intellectual developments.
    • Students scored less well on questions about the theme of interactions between Europe and the world.
  • Historical Thinking Skills:
    • Students scored impressively high on multiple-choice questions related to Skill 3, Claims and Evidence in Sources; 39% of students answered most or all of such questions correctly.
    • Many students also demonstrated solid proficiency on multiple-choice questions focused on Skill 5: Making Connections, which involves identifying patterns of causation, continuity, and change.
    • Students scored lowest on multiple-choice questions related to Skill 4: Contextualization.

Free-response section:

Short Answer Questions

  • The highest performance in the free-response section was on Short Answer Question 1 in which students evaluated a quite difficult primary source passage: de Stael’s commentary on revolution. A massive 30% of AP European History students achieved perfect scores on this question as they described de Stael’s argument, summoned evidence to support it, while also identifying its limitations. Students’ work on this primary source was often very impressive.
  • The lowest performance within this year’s AP European History Exam was on Short Answer Question 3 about religion in daily life, 1450–1700. 12% of students who chose this question earned perfect scores on it and 28% received 0 points.

Document-Based Question (DBQ)––British Imperial Rule in India and Liberalism

  • 80% of students earned the thesis point.
  • 55% of students earned the contextualization point
  • Evidence: 25% of students earned all 3 evidence points; 41% earned 2 points; 27% earned 1 point; 7% earned 0 points.
  • Analysis & Reasoning: 5% earned 2 points; 25% earned 1 point; 70% earned 0 points.

Long Essay Question

Students demonstrated different strengths within the 3 different long essay options:

The May 19 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • The most popular topic, by far, was “the effect of the printing press, 1450–1650,” chosen by 68% of students.
    • 60% of these students earned the thesis point;
    • 61% earned the contextualization point;
    • 33% earned both evidence points, 25% earned 1 evidence point, 41% earned no evidence points;
    • 6% earned both analysis and reasoning points, 54% earned 1 analysis and reasoning point, 40% earned no analysis and reasoning points.
  • 15% of students chose “the effect of the Enlightenment, 1688–1815” topic.
    • 55% of these students earned the thesis point;
    • 67% earned the contextualization point;
    • 37% earned both evidence points; 23% earned 1 evidence point; 40% earned no evidence points;
    • 6% earned both analysis and reasoning points; 28% earned 1 analysis and reasoning point; 66% earned no analysis and reasoning points.
  • 17% of students chose “the cultural effect of the First World War” topic.
    • 44% of these students earned the thesis point;
    • 77% earned the contextualization point;
    • 16% earned both evidence points, 23% earned 1 evidence point, 60% earned no evidence points;
    • 6% earned both analysis and reasoning points; 27% earned 1 analysis and reasoning point; 67% earned no analysis and reasoning points.
  1. Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  2. Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  3. Differences in versions of the exam. The net result for this year’s AP European History Exams is that out of 140 points possible, half of the digital versions were easier than the paper version and half the digital versions were more difficult than the paper version. As a result:
    1. On the easiest digital version, a student needed to earn 5 more points to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
    2. On the hardest digital version, a student needed to earn 5 fewer points to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
French Language 13.0% 23.0% 35.0% 22.0% 7.0% Jul 08
  • The following data includes all 18,312 students worldwide who took the AP French Language and Culture Exam this year on any exam date prior to June 12.
  • Of these 18,312 students, 1 achieved a perfect score of all 130 of 130 points possible on this year’s exam.
  • The May 10 Exam Questions - The largest exam date for AP French Language was May 10, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date, and does not include heritage speakers’ exam data:
  • Multiple-choice section: Regardless of whether the questions were reading or listening, performance was similar. Students performed best on questions about science and technology, and least well on questions about the influence of language and culture.
  • Free-response section: AP French students generally scored exceptionally well on the email task (free-response question #1); more than 15% of the students earned all 5 points possible on it. The most challenging task for many students was the presentation on l’importance du patrimoine matériel, but student performance was often quite solid on this task as well.
German Language 18.0% 19.0% 28.0% 24.0% 11.0% Jul 08
  • The following data reflect all 4,275 students worldwide who took the AP German Language and Culture Exam this year on any exam date prior to June 12.
  • Of these 4,275 students, 14 achieved a perfect score of all 130 of 130 points possible on this year’s exam.
  • The May 4 Exam Questions - The largest exam date for AP German Language was May 4, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date, and does not include heritage speakers’ exam data:
  • Multiple-choice section: AP German students generally performed somewhat better on the reading questions than the listening questions, and many struggled with the questions about the influence of language/culture, and personal/public identities. Students generally scored better on questions that required comprehension of the text, interpretation of the text, or making connections than on making meanings.
  • Free-response section: AP German students scored much higher on the free-response questions than the multiple-choice questions. On the email and the argumentative essay, ~20% of AP German students earned 5/5 points, a very impressive performance. Even on the most challenging task, the presentation on the role of Kultur institutionen, more than 15% of AP German students earned every point possible.
Government and Politics, Comp. 17.0% 24.0% 31.0% 15.0% 13.0% Jul 16

The following data reflect the 17,750 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Comparative Government and Politics Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

Of these 17,750 students, 2 students achieved a perfect score from all professors/readers on all free-response questions and correctly answered every multiple-choice question, resulting in the rare and impressive feat of earning all 120 of 120 points possible on an AP Comparative Government and Politics Exam.

The May 17 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Comparative Government and Politics was May 17, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Periods/Units:
    • AP Comparative Government and Politics students demonstrated stellar mastery of Unit 3, Political Culture and Participation: 24% of students earned a perfect score across questions about this unit, and an additional 27% of students only missed a single point. Student mastery of Unit 1 (Political Systems, Regimes, and Governments) and Unit 5 (Political and Economic Changes and Development) was nearly as strong.
    • While students scored well across all units, the most challenging, with somewhat lower scores, was Unit 4, Party and Electoral Systems and Citizen Organizations. 10% of students earned perfect scores on this unit.
  • Disciplinary Practices:
    • Data Analysis: Students demonstrated strongest skills in this area, with 39% answering all of these questions correctly, and less than 25% of students missing more than 1 point.
    • Source Analysis: 28% of students answered all of these questions correctly.

Free-response section

For exam security, several different sets of free-response questions were administered. The following analysis will focus on one of the most widely administered, “Set 2.”

Set 2 Questions:

  • The highest performance was on Q2, the quantitative analysis of political freedom rankings. 4% of students earned all 5 points possible on this question, and 32% earned 4 of 5 points. .
  • The lowest performance on this year’s exam was Q1, about the rule of law. 12% of students earned perfect scores, while 38% of students earned 0.
  • The comparative analysis of social movements, Q3, proved challenging for some students. 10% earned all 5 points possible, while 18% earned 0 points.
  • On the argumentative essay about executive term limits:
    • 79% of students earned the claim/thesis point.
    • 34% earned 2 evidence points; 35% earned 1 evidence point; and 31% earned 0 points.
    • 52% earned the reasoning point.
    • 38% earned the point for responding to an alternative perspective.

The May 28 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  1. Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  2. Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  3. The net result for this year’s AP Comparative Government and Politics exams is that out of 120 points possible, most of the digital versions were more difficult than the paper version. As a result:
    1. On the easiest digital version, a student needed to earn 1 more point to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
    2. On the harder digital versions, a student needed to earn 4–8 fewer points (depending on their version) to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
Government and Politics, US 11.0% 11.0% 27.0% 27.0% 23.0% Jul 16

The following data reflect the 260,941 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

Of these 260,941 students, 31 students achieved a perfect score from all professors/readers on all free-response questions and correctly answered every multiple-choice question, resulting in the rare and impressive feat of earning all 120 of 120 points possible on an AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam.

The May 3 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP US Government and Politics was May 3, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Periods/Units:
    • AP U.S. Government students scored well and evenly across every unit of the course, but earned especially high scores on Unit 4, American Political Ideologies and Beliefs. 31% of students earned perfect scores across questions about Unit 4.
  • Big Ideas:
    • Students scored especially well across questions about Big Idea 2 (Liberty and Order), Big Idea 3 (Civic Participation in a Representative Democracy), and Big Idea 5 (Methods of Political Analysis).
    • Big Idea 4 (Competing Policy-Making Interests) was the most challenging. 9% of students were able to answer all or most of these questions correctly.
  • Disciplinary Practices:
    • Students’ strongest skill in the multiple-choice section was SCOTUS application. 27% of students earned a perfect score across all SCOTUS application multiple-choice questions.
    • Students were slightly less proficient at source analysis than they were at data analysis and SCOTUS application. That said, 19% of students earned most or all of the source analysis points, and scores in this category were overall very good.

Free-response section:

Set 2 Questions

  • The highest performance in the Set 2 free-response section was on Q2, the quantitative analysis of votes and seats won. 18% of students earned all 4 points possible on this question.
  • Students also generally scored well on the “Taylor Swift” question; 25% of students earned all 3 points possible.
  • The lowest performance within this year’s AP US Government Set 2 questions was Q3, the SCOTUS comparison of Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) and Betts v. Brady (1942).
  • On the argumentative essay about the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches:
    • 59% of students earned the claim/thesis point.
    • 33% earned 3 evidence points; 18% earned 2 evidence points; and 35% earned 1 evidence point, and 13% earned 0 points.
    • 41% earned the reasoning point.
    • 28% earned the point for responding to an alternative perspective.

The May 20 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • Differences in versions of the exam. The net result for this year’s AP U.S. Government and Politics Exams is that out of 120 points possible, most of the digital versions were more difficult than the paper version, and a few of the digital versions were similar to or easier than the paper version. As a result:
    1. On the easiest digital version, a student needed to earn 2 more points to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
    2. On the harder digital versions, a student needed to earn 1–13 fewer points (depending on their version) to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
Human Geography 15.0% 20.0% 19.0% 16.0% 31.0% Jul 14

The following data reflect the 193,660 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Human Geography Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

While in most AP subjects the disruptions of this past year are evident in lower-than-usual scores, AP Human Geography is a rare exception to that pattern. Common item equating enables researchers to compare learning this year to years prior to the pandemic, finding that this year’s students developed a significantly stronger understanding of the course content and skills than students in the years immediately prior to the pandemic, a remarkable outcome for AP Human Geography teachers and students.

It’s also important to honor the efforts of students who don’t earn a score of 3+ on the AP Human Geography Exam, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder, the most recent research on AP Human Geography students who earn a 2 on the exam found that these students proceeded to earn higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender.

The May 4 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Human Geography was May 4, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date. As usual in this subject, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on their free-response questions, where low performance continues to limit the percentage of exams achieving scores of 3 or higher.

Multiple-choice section: 

  • Course Units:
    • Students demonstrated strongest mastery of Unit 4, Political Patterns and Processes, with 18% of students answering virtually every question about this unit correctly. The next strongest unit was the final one, Unit 7, Industrial and Economic Development.
    • Students scored lowest on questions about Unit 6, Cities and Urban Land-Use, and many also struggled with questions about Unit 3, Agricultural and Rural Land-Use.
  • Skill Categories:
    • Students’ strongest skill, overall, was scale analysis (Skill Category 5); 15% of students got virtually all of these questions right. Many students also demonstrated strong skills of source analysis (Skill Category 4).
    • Students’ weakest skill, overall, was data analysis (Skill Category 3); 8% of students could not answer any of these questions correctly.

Free-response section: Perhaps because AP Human Geography students are primarily 9th graders (unlike every other AP subject), many really struggle with the college-level demands of the free-response questions, which are written and scored by college faculty and AP teachers through the lens of college-level standards, so that the scores can accurately determine whether a student deserves to receive college credit for this course. Accordingly, AP Human Geography typically has a much lower percentage of students earning scores of 3+ than another social science subjects like AP Psychology, taken primarily by 12th grade students. All this said, this year student performance across free-response questions was more consistent and generally higher this year, with a lower percentage of students simply abandoning a question than has happened in past years.

  • Course Units:
    • Students demonstrated strongest mastery of Unit 4, Political Patterns and Processes, with 18% of students answering virtually every question about this unit correctly. The next strongest unit was the final one, Unit 7, Industrial and Economic Development.
    • Students scored lowest on questions about Unit 6, Cities and Urban Land-Use, and many also struggled with questions about Unit 3, Agricultural and Rural Land-Use.
  • Skill Categories:
    • Students’ strongest skill, overall, was scale analysis (Skill Category 5); 15% of students got virtually all of these questions right. Many students also demonstrated strong skills of source analysis (Skill Category 4).
    • Students’ weakest skill, overall, was data analysis (Skill Category 3); 8% of students could not answer any of these questions correctly.

Free-Response Questions–Set 1: Analysis of student performance data has found that students who received the Set 1 questions received the more difficult questions, and accordingly, fewer points are required for these students to receive scores of 3, 4, and 5. Specifically, students need 6 fewer points to receive a final AP score of 5 on Set 1 than students who received the somewhat easier Set 2 questions.

Free-Response Questions–Set 2:

  • While most students scored low on all 3 questions, the strongest performance was on question 2, the analysis of English speaker data. 21% of students earned 5-7 points, and 44% of students earned 0-2 points, out of 7 possible.
  • The most challenging question, overall, was question 3 on special economic zones (SEZs). 10% of students earned 5-7 points, and 63% of students earned 0-2 points, out of 7 possible.

The May 28 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • Differences in versions of the exam. The net result for this year’s AP Human Geography Exams is that out of 120 points possible, the digital exams proved more difficult than the paper, so to adjust for that variation in difficulty:
    • To receive a 5 on the digital versions, students needed to earn 4–19 fewer points (depending on the difficulty of the version) than students who took the paper exam.
    • To receive a 4 on the digital versions, students needed to earn 2–19 fewer points (depending on the difficulty of the version) than students who took the paper exam.
    • To receive a 3 on the digital versions, students needed to earn 0–16 fewer points (depending on the difficulty of the version) than students who took the paper exam.
Italian Language and Culture 21.0% 23.0% 29.0% 18.0% 9.0% Jul 15

The following data reflect all 2,098 students worldwide who took the AP Italian Language and Culture Exam this year on any exam date prior to June 12.

The May 14 Exam Questions - The largest exam date for AP Italian was May 14, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date, and does not include heritage speakers’ exam data:

Multiple-choice section: Students performed slightly better on reading questions than listening ones.

  • Course Themes: Students scored best on questions about science/technology and contemporary life, and least well on questions about families/communities and beauty/aesthetics.
  • Skill Categories: Students scored highest on questions related to Skill Category 1 (Comprehend Text), and least well on questions related to Skill Category 4 (Make Meanings).
  • Task Models: Many students did an amazing job with the promotional material task; more than 15% earned all 5 points possible. The next highest scoring task model was the interview; on such questions 11% of students earned all 5 points possible. The most challenging task model was the presentation; very few students earned all of those points.

Free-response section: AP Italian students generally scored highest on the email task (free-response question 1); more than 15% of the students earned all 5 points possible on it. The most challenging task for students was the conversation related to the theme of sfide globali: ~45% of students were unable to earn more than 1 point out of the 5 possible for this conversation.

Japanese Lang. and Culture 47.0% 9.0% 18.0% 8.0% 18.0% Jul 08
  • The following data reflect all 2,208 students worldwide who took the AP Japanese Language and Culture Exam this year on any exam date prior to June 12.Of these 2,208 students, 3 achieved a perfect score of all 144 of 144 points possible on this year’s exam.
  • The May 5 Exam Questions - The largest exam date for AP Japanese Language was May 5, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date, and does not include heritage speakers’ exam data:
  • Multiple-choice section: Students performed very well on the multiple-choice questions, especially on the listening tasks, and on questions about the influence of beauty and art. The most challenging multiple-choice questions for students were those that required students to demonstrate the skill of making connections, as opposed to those focused on comprehending the text, interpreting the text, or making meaning.
  • Free-response sectionThe most challenging task on this year’s exam proved to be free-response question #1, the text chat about an upcoming event. In contrast, students generally scored very well on the other writing task, question #2, the comparison/contrast of digital and print reading.
Latin 10.0% 17.0% 30.0% 25.0% 18.0% Jul 09

The following data includes all 4,892 students worldwide who took the AP Spanish Literature Exam this year on any exam date prior to June 12.

Of these 4,892 students, 2 achieved a perfect score of all 100 of 100 points possible on this year’s exam.

The May 11 Exam Questions - The largest exam date for AP Latin was May 11, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

Multiple-choice section:

  • On questions about the syllabus readings, students scored significantly higher on Caesar syllabus readings than Vergil readings. But on sight reading questions, the opposite: much higher performance sight reading poetry than prose.
  • Themes: On questions about the 7 themes of the course, students generally demonstrated a stronger understanding of themes 1–4 (Literary Style and Genre; Roman Values; War and Empire; and Leadership), than of Themes 5–7 (Views of Non-Romans; History and Memory; Human Beings and the Gods).
  • Skills: Students generally demonstrated strongest skills in categories 1G (Identify stylistic features); 1H (Identify references to Roman culture, history, and mythology); 1I (Demonstrate overall comprehension); and 3 (Contextualization). Students’ weakest skill was generally 1C (Use of specific terminology to identify grammatical forms and syntactical structures).

Free-response section:

  • AP Latin students performed significantly better on the multiple-choice questions than the free-response questions.
  • The highest average score was on free-response question 2, the translation of 2 routes out of Helvetian territory from Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum 1.6. About 15% of AP Latin students earned 13+ points for their excellent translations.
  • The lowest average scores were on:
    • free-response question 1, the translation of a storm at sea from Book 1 of the Aeneid; 11% of students scored 0/15 on this question;
    • free-response question 4, the short answers about Book 6 of the Aeneid; 13% of students scored 0/7 on this question.
Macroeconomics 18.0% 20.0% 14.0% 16.0% 32.0% Jul 20

The following data reflect the 112,644 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Macroeconomics Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

Of these 112,644 students, 60 students achieved a perfect score from all professors/readers on all essays and correctly answered every multiple-choice question, resulting in the rare and impressive feat of earning all 90 of 90 points possible on an AP Macroeconomics Exam.

It’s also important to honor the efforts of students who don’t earn a score of 3+ on the AP Macroeconomics Exam, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder, the most recent research on AP Macroeconomics students who earn a 2 on the exam found that these students proceeded to earn higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender.

The May 10 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Macroeconomics was May 10, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Units:
    • AP Macroeconomics students demonstrated solid mastery of Unit 2, Economic Indicators and the Business Cycle. 15% of students earned a perfect score on the group of questions about this unit. And students’ understanding of Unit 1, Basic Economic Concepts, is unsurprisingly strong.
    • The most challenging unit for students was Unit 4, Financial Sector. 18% of students answered most or all of these questions correctly, and 21% of students answered most or all of these questions incorrectly.

Free-response section:

For exam security, several different sets of free-response questions were administered. The following analysis will focus on one of the most widely administered sets, Set 2.

Free-Response Questions–Set 2:

    • Question 1 (Long): Students generally earned a higher percentage of the possible points on this question than the 2 short free-response questions. 4% of students earned all 10 points possible; 7% earned 9 points; 9% earned 1 point; 16% earned 0 points.
    • Question 2 (Short) was ultimately the most challenging question on this year’s exam, really dividing stronger and weaker students. 15% earned perfect scores on this question, while 35% didn’t earn a single point on it.

The May 19 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Course Units:
    • AP Macroeconomics students demonstrated solid mastery of Unit 2, Economic Indicators and the Business Cycle. 15% of students earned a perfect score on the group of questions about this unit. And students’ understanding of Unit 1, Basic Economic Concepts, is unsurprisingly strong.
    • The most challenging unit for students was Unit 4, Financial Sector. 18% of students answered most or all of these questions correctly, and 21% of students answered most or all of these questions incorrectly.
    • Question 1 (Long): Students generally earned a higher percentage of the possible points on this question than the 2 short free-response questions. 4% of students earned all 10 points possible; 7% earned 9 points; 9% earned 1 point; 16% earned 0 points.
    • Question 2 (Short) was ultimately the most challenging question on this year’s exam, really dividing stronger and weaker students. 15% earned perfect scores on this question, while 35% didn’t earn a single point on it.
    1. Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
    2. Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
    3. Differences in versions of the exam. The net result for this year’s AP Macroeconomics Exams is that out of 90 points possible, the digital exams proved significantly more difficult than the paper, so to adjust for that variation in difficulty:
      1. To receive a 3+ on the digital versions, students needed to earn 11–17 fewer points (depending on the version) than students who took the paper exam.
Microeconomics 20.0% 24.0% 16.0% 17.0% 23.0% Jul 20

The following data reflect the 73,461 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Microeconomics Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

Of these 73,461 students, 10 students achieved a perfect score from all professors/readers on all essays and correctly answered every multiple-choice question, resulting in the rare and impressive feat of earning all 90 of 90 points possible on an AP Microeconomics Exam.

It’s also important to honor the efforts of students who don’t earn a score of 3+ on the AP Microeconomics Exam, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder,the most recent research on AP Microeconomics students who earn a 2 on the exam found that these students proceeded to earn higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender.

The May 12 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Microeconomics was May 12, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Units:
    • AP Microeconomics students’ strongest unit was Unit 3, Production, Cost, and the Perfect Competition Model. 20% of students answered virtually every question about this unit correctly.
    • AP Microeconomics students’ most imperfect unit was, fittingly, Unit 4, Imperfect Competition. 22% of students answered 75% of questions about this unit incorrectly.
  • Big Ideas:
    • Of the four “big ideas” of AP Microeconomics, students earned far and away the best scores on questions about Costs, Benefits, and Marginal Analysis. 24% of students earned a perfect score on questions about this big idea.
    • The most challenging was Market Inefficiency and Public Policy, the only one of the 4 big ideas for which the average was less than 50% correct answers.

Free-response section:

For exam security, several different sets of free-response questions were administered. The following analysis will focus on one of the most widely administered sets, Set 1.

Free-Response Questions–Set 1:

  • Question 1 (Long): AP Microeconomics students generally scored very well on this question: 24% earned 9 or 10 points out of 10 possible, an impressive showing.
  • Question 2 (Short) was the most challenging component of the free-response section, with 8% of students earning no points on it, and 27% earning 4 or 5 points out of 5 possible.

Free-Response Questions–Set 2:

  • This set of questions (in particular, Question 2 (Short) on externalities) was somewhat more difficult than Set 1. Accordingly, to ensure the Set 2 students were not penalized for having the more difficult set, adjustments were made to the “cut scores” (i.e., the number of points required on the 90-point exam for AP scores of 3, 4, and 5). The net result: Set 2 students could earn an AP score of 3 with 4 fewer points than Set 1 students, and the other cut scores were similarly adjusted to align with the psychometric analysis.

The May 28 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  1. Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  2. Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  3. Differences in versions of the exam. The net result for this year’s AP Microeconomics Exams is that out of 90 points possible, the digital exams proved somewhat more difficult than the paper, so to adjust for that variation in difficulty: version, and a few of the digital versions were similar to or easier than the paper version. As a result:
    1. To receive a 3+ on the digital versions, students needed to earn 6–10 fewer points (depending on the version) than students who took the paper exam.
Music Theory 20.0% 18.0% 23.0% 23.0% 16.0% Jul 12

The following data reflect all 16,169 students worldwide who took the AP Music Theory Exam this year on any exam date prior to June 12.

The May 12 Exam Questions

The largest exam date for AP Music Theory was May 12, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Units: Unsurprisingly, students scored highest on questions from Unit 1 (Music Fundamentals I: Pitch, Major Scales and Key Signatures, Rhythm, Meter, and Expressive Elements), but also generally scored well on questions from Unit 8 (Modes and Form).
  • Units: The exam did not include many multiple-choice questions from Unit 5 (Harmony and Voice Leading II: Chord Progressions and Predominant Function) or Unit 7 (Harmony and Leading Voice IV: Secondary Function), but students found them far and away the most difficult components of the multiple-choice section.
  • Big Ideas: AP Music Theory students triumphed on questions about Big Idea 4: Musical Design— many students answering almost every such question correctly. Students also scored well on questions about Big Idea 3: Form. In contrast, many students struggled with questions about Big Idea 1: Pitch.
  • Skill Categories: Students performed somewhat better on questions requiring them to analyze performed music (Skill Category 1) than on questions requiring them to analyze notated music (Skill Category 2). On the few questions that asked students to convert between performed and notated music (Skill Category 3), students performed best of all.

Free-response section–Theory questions:

  • Students scored highest on question 3, harmonic dictation, with ~30% of students earning 20 or more points (out of 24 possible).
  • The most difficult question for many students was question 2, dictation of a bassoon melody, on which nearly 30% of students earned 0–1 point(s) out of 9 possible.
  • The question that best predicts a student’s overall AP score is question 1, dictation of a violin melody. It’s a difficult question, so students who can earn 3 of the 9 points possible are generally getting an overall score of 3 on the exam, and students who can earn 7 of the 9 points possible are generally getting an overall score of 5 on the exam.

Free-response section–Sight-singing questions:

  • Most students found both of these questions quite difficult, and similar in difficulty. On each question, about 10% of students earned all 9 points possible. On the first question, 12% of students earned 0 or 1 point(s); on the second, 20% of students earned 0 or 1 point(s).
Physics 1 - Algebra Based 7.0% 16.0% 19.0% 27.0% 31.0% Jul 27

The following data reflect the 136,238 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Physics 1 Exam prior to June 12.

Out of these 136,238 students, 4 answered every multiple-choice question correctly and received perfect scores on all 5 free-response questions by every college professor and AP teacher who scored their work.

It’s also important to honor the work of students who did not qualify for a score of 3+, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder, the most recent research on students who achieve a score of 2 in AP Physics 1 found that they proceed to earn significantly higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender. And these outcomes are stronger for AP Physics 1 students who receive a 2 than they are for students receiving 2s in most other AP subjects.

The May 5 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Physics 1 was May 5, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

Students scored slightly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Units:
    • AP Physics 1 students generally scored similarly across all units, with slightly stronger performance overall on Unit 1, Kinematics, followed by Unit 7, Torque and Rotational Motion.
  • Science Practices:
    • AP Physics 1 students’ strongest skills were Science Practice 4, Experimental Methods, and Science Practice 5, Data Analysis.
    • The most challenging skill for AP Physics students was generally Science Practice 2, Mathematical Routines.

Free-response section:

  • AP Physics 1 students generally performed best on Question 2, Experimental Design. An impressive 25% of AP Physics 1 students earned 10–12 points out of 12 possible.
  • By far the most challenging question on this year’s exam was Question 1; ~3% of students earned all 7 of 7 points possible.

The Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • The net result for this year’s AP Physics 1 Exams is that out of 80 points possible, some of the digital versions were slightly easier than the paper versions and some of the digital versions were slightly more difficult than the paper versions. Accordingly:
    • Students taking one of the slightly easier digital versions needed to earn 1–3 more points to earn a score of 3+, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 5.
    • Students taking one of the slightly more difficult digital versions needed to earn 1–5 fewer points to earn a score of 3+, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 5.
Physics 2 - Algebra Based 15.0% 18.0% 32.0% 27.0% 8.0% Jul 27

The following data reflect the 18,449 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Physics 2 Exam prior to June 12.

Out of these 18,449 students, 1 answered every multiple-choice question correctly and received perfect scores on all 4 free-response questions by every college professor and AP teacher who scored their work.

The May 7 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Physics 2 was May 7, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

Students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Units:
    • AP Physics 2 students demonstrated strongest mastery of Unit 1, Fluids. 15% of students answered every question about this unit correctly. Unit 6, Geometric and Physical Optics, was the next strongest unit.
    • AP Physics 2 students scored least well on questions about Unit 3, Electric Force, Field, and Potential. 2% of students answered every question about this unit correctly; 14% of students answered 20% or fewer of these questions accurately.
  • Science Practices:
    • AP Physics 2 students’ strongest skills were demonstrated on questions related to Science Practice 5, Data Analysis, followed by Science Practice 6, Argumentation, and 7, Making Connections.

Free-response section:

  • AP Physics 2 students generally performed best on Question 1. Approximately 18% of students earned 8–10 points out of 10 possible.
  • By far the most challenging question on this year’s exam was Question 3. About 5% of students earned 10–12 out of 12 points possible; 17% of students earned 0 points on it.

The Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • The net result for this year’s AP Physics 2 Exams is that out of 80 points possible, some of the digital versions were slightly easier than the paper versions and some of the digital versions were slightly more difficult than the paper versions. Accordingly:
    • Students taking one of the slightly easier digital versions needed to earn 1–2 more points to earn a score of 3+, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 7.
    • Students taking one of the slightly more difficult digital versions needed to earn 2 fewer points to earn a score of 3+, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 7.
Physics C E&M 33.0% 23.0% 14.0% 18.0% 12.0% Jul 29

The following data reflect the 19,944 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Exam prior to June 12.

Out of these 19,944 students, 2 answered every question correctly, earning every point possible.

The May 3 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism was May 3, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Units:
    • AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism students demonstrated strongest mastery of Unit 3, Electric Currents. 18% of students earned virtually all possible points related to this unit.
    • The most challenging unit was Unit 4, Magnetic Fields; 10% of students answered no questions about this unit correctly.
  • Science Practices:
    • AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism students’ strongest skills were demonstrated on questions related to Science Practice 1, Visual Representations; 14% of students answered all of these questions correctly. Students were nearly as strong on questions related to Science Practice 6, Mathematical Routines.
    • The most challenging questions related to Skill Category 5, Theoretical Relationships; 7% of students answered none of these questions correctly.

Free-response section:

  • AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism students generally scored best on Question 2, Experimental Design, Kinematics, earning slightly more points on it than on Question 1, RC Circuits.
  • Question 3, Electromagnetic Induction, was generally the most challenging component of this year’s exam for students.

The Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes —paper and digital —were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • The net result for this year’s AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism Exams is that most of the all multiple-choice digital versions were slightly more difficult than the traditional paper versions and one of the digital versions was slightly easier than the paper versions. Accordingly:
    • Students taking one of the slightly more difficult digital versions needed to earn 1–2 fewer points to earn a score of 3+, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 3.
    • Students taking the slightly easier digital version needed to earn 3 more points to earn a score of 3+ than students who took the paper exam on May 3.
Physics C Mech. 23.0% 29.0% 21.0% 15.0% 12.0% Jul 29

The following data reflect the 48,171 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Physics C: Mechanics Exam prior to June 12.

Out of these 48,171 students, 2 answered every question correctly, earning every point possible.

The May 3 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Physics C: Mechanics was May 3, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Units:
    • AP Physics C: Mechanics students demonstrated strongest mastery of Unit 1, Kinematics, and least mastery of Units 5–7.
  • Science Practices:
    • AP Physics C: Mechanics students’ strongest skills were demonstrated on questions related to Science Practice 1, Visual Representations; 12% of students answered all of these questions correctly.
    • The most challenging questions required Skill Category 4, Mathematical Routines; 1% of students answered all of these questions correctly.

Free-response section - Set 2:

For exam security, several different sets of free-response questions were administered. The following analysis focuses on one of the most widely administered, Set 2.

  • AP Physics C: Mechanics students demonstrated very strong knowledge and skills on Question 1, Experimental Design, Kinematics. 25% of students earned 12–15 points out of 15 possible.
  • By far the most challenging question on this year’s exam was Question 2, Rotation. About 2% of students earned 12–15 points out of 15 possible.

The Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • The net result for this year’s AP Physics C: Mechanics Exams is that most of the all-multiple-choice digital versions were slightly easier than the traditional paper versions and one of the digital versions was slightly more difficult than the paper versions. Accordingly:
    • Students taking one of the slightly easier digital versions needed to earn 2–3 more points to earn a score of 3+, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 3.
    • Students taking the slightly more difficult digital version needed to earn 2 fewer points to earn a score of 3+ than students who took the paper exam on May 3.
Psychology 15.0% 22.0% 18.0% 14.0% 31.0% Jul 15

The following data reflect the 262,700 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Psychology Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June is not yet available.

Of these 262,700 students, 6 students achieved a perfect score from all professors/readers on all free-response questions and correctly answered every multiple-choice question, resulting in the rare and impressive feat of earning all 150 of 150 points possible on an AP Psychology Exam.

It’s also important to honor the efforts of students who don’t earn a score of 3+ on the AP Psychology Exam, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder, the most recent research on AP Psychology students who earn a 2 on the exam found that these students proceeded to earn higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender.

The May 11 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Psychology was May 11, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

As usual in this subject, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions. But given the value this academic discipline, which has expertise in measurement science, places on the objective reliability of multiple-choice assessments, the free-response questions contribute less to an AP Psychology score than they do in other AP subjects.

Multiple-choice section:

Free-response section:The two different sets of free-response questions for the paper exams proved to be very similar in difficulty.

  • Course Units:
    • AP Psychology students demonstrated strongest mastery of Units 1 (Scientific Foundations of Psychology), 8 (Clinical Psychology), and 9 (Social Psychology). About 20% of students answered virtually every question on these topics correctly, a big achievement.
    • AP Psychology students generally demonstrated least mastery of Unit 7 (Motivation, Emotion, and Personality), in which just 3% of students knew the material exceptionally well. Unit 2 (Biological Bases of Behavior) was the second weakest unit.
  • Skill Categories:
    • Students’ strongest skill was analyzing psychological research studies (Skill Category 3); 34% of students answered most or all of these questions correctly.
    • Students scored lowest on questions related to defining/applying concepts (Skill Category 1); performance of this skill is not especially weak, it’s just not at the same level as students demonstrated on the other course skills.

Free-Response Questions–Set 1:

Students performed somewhat better on the Research Design question (Question 2) than on the Concept Application question (Question 1):

  • Concept Application question: 8% of students earned 6–7 points out of 7 possible; 35% earned 0–1 point(s).
  • Research Design question: 6% of students earned 6–7 points out of 7 possible; 23% earned 0–1 point(s).

Free-Response Questions–Set 2:

Students performed significantly better on the Research Design question (Question 2) than on the Concept Application question (Question 1):

  • Concept Application question: 5% of students earned 6–7 points out of 7 possible; 42% earned 0–1 point(s).
  • Research Design question: 10% of students earned 6–7 points out of 7 possible; 25% earned 0–1 point(s).

The May 20 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • Differences in versions of the exam. The net result for this year’s AP Psychology Exams is that out of 150 points possible, some of the digital versions were more difficult than the paper versions and some of the digital versions were easier than the paper versions. As a result:
    • On the easiest digital version, a student needed to earn 5 more points to receive an AP score of 5 than students who took the paper version.
    • On the hardest digital version, a student needed to earn 7 fewer points to receive an AP score of 5 than students who took the paper version.
Spanish Language 17.0% 30.0% 33.0% 17.0% 3.0% Jul 08
  • The following data reflect all 148,040 students worldwide who took the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam this year on any exam date prior to June 12.Of these 148,040 students, 77 achieved a perfect score of all 130 of 130 points possible on this year’s exam.
  • Of these 148,040 students, 77 achieved a perfect score of all 130 of 130 points possible on this year’s exam.
  • The May 11 Exam Questions - The largest exam date for AP Spanish Language was May 11, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date, and does not include heritage speakers’ exam data:
  • Multiple-choice section: AP Spanish students did exceptionally well on the questions about beauty and aesthetics, with more than 10% of the students earning every point possible. The most challenging multiple-choice topics were personal/public identities and contemporary life, but even on these topics, student performance was generally quite strong.
  • Free-response sectionStudents generally did incredibly well on the conversation on the theme of la vida contemporánea: almost 25% of students earned all 5 points possible. But performance was also strong throughout the free-response section overall.
Spanish Literature 8.0% 21.0% 36.0% 25.0% 10.0% Jul 09

Of these 4,892 students, 2 achieved a perfect score of all 100 of 100 points possible on this year’s exam.

The May 7 Exam Questions - The largest exam date for AP Spanish Literature was May 7, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

Multiple-choice section:

  • AP Spanish Literature students performed just slightly better on the reading questions than on the listening questions.
  • Content: Students scored significantly higher on the questions about units 6-8 (“Teatro y poesia del siglo XX,” “El Boom latinoamericano,” and “Escritores contemporáneos de Estados Unidos y España”) than they did on questions about units 1-2 (“La época medieval,” and “El siglo XVI”).
  • Skills: Students generally scored lowest on questions related to Skill Category 3 (Comparing literary texts ) and highest on questions related to Skill Categories 1A and 1B (Comprehension and theme identification).
  • The lowest-scoring component of this year’s exam was the critical commentary multiple-choice questions; more than 10% of students could not answer any correctly.

Free-response section:

  • The highest-scoring component of this year’s exam was free-response question 2, the text and art comparison between Lorca’s La casa de Bernarda Alba and Santos’s “La tertulia.” Students generally did very well, with more than 15% of students earning every point possible on this question.
  • The lowest average scores within this year’s free-response section were on question 3, the analysis of García Márquez’s “La siesta del martes.” About 8% of students left the question blank or earned no points in their response.
Statistics 16.0% 20.0% 22.0% 17.0% 25.0% Jul 27

The following data reflect the 183,181 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP Statistics Exam prior to June 12.

Out of these 183,181 students, 2 answered every multiple-choice question correctly and received perfect scores on all 6 free-response questions by every college professor and AP teacher who scored their work.

It’s also important to honor the work of students who did not qualify for a score of 3+, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder, the most recent research on students who achieve a score of 2 in AP Statistics found that they proceed to earn significantly higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender. And these outcomes are stronger for AP Statistics students who receive a 2 than they are for students receiving 2s in any other AP subject.

The May 17 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP Statistics was May 17, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-choice section:

  • Course Units:
    • AP Statistics students generally scored very well on questions about Units 1, 2, and 3, with ~18% of students answering all such questions correctly.
    • The most challenging units were 4 (Probability, Random Variables, and Probability Distributions) and 5 (Sampling Distributions). 5% of students answered every question about these units correctly, and 5% of students answered no questions about these units correctly.
  • Skill Categories:
    • AP Statistics students’ strongest skill was generally Skill Category 2; 18% of students answered every question that required this skill correctly.
    • The most challenging questions for students required Skill Category 3, Using Probability and Simulation. Scores would have been significantly higher if students performed this skill as well as they performed Skill Categories 1 and 2.

Free-response section:

  • The strongest results were typically on Question 4 and Question 6. Students found the starting point of Question 6 to be the easiest of the 6 free-response questions, and more students (10%) earned all 4 points possible on Question 4 than on any of the other free-response questions.
  • By far the most challenging questions on this year’s exam were Questions 2 and 3; ~1% of students earned all 4 points possible on these questions.

The Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • The net result for this year’s AP Statistics Exams is that out of 100 points possible, the digital versions were generally somewhat easier than the paper versions. Accordingly, students taking one of the somewhat easier digital versions needed to earn 1–7 more points to earn a score of 3+, depending on their version, than students who took the paper exam on May 17.
United States History 11.0% 16.0% 21.0% 22.0% 30.0% Jul 15

The following data reflect the 399,676 students worldwide who took either the paper or the digital AP U.S. History Exam in May. Data from students who tested in June are not yet available.

Of these 399,676 students, 6 students achieved a perfect score from all professors/readers on all free-response questions and correctly answered every multiple-choice question, resulting in the rare and impressive feat of earning all 140 of 140 points possible on an AP U.S. History Exam.

It’s also important to honor the work of students who did not qualify for a score of 3+, but who nonetheless developed basic understandings and skills in the course. As a reminder, the most recent research on students who achieve a score of 2 in AP U.S. History found that they proceed to earn higher grades when taking the course in college than students with the same high school GPA, SAT score, race, and gender. And these outcomes are stronger for AP U.S. History students who receive a 2 than they are for students taking any other non-STEM AP subject.

The May 6 In-School Paper Exam - The largest exam date for AP U.S. History was May 6, so the following information is specific to the exam version administered on that date.

As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.

Multiple-choice section:

Free-response section:

Short Answer Questions

Document-Based Question (DBQ)–Economic Growth from 1940–1970

Long Essay Question

  • Course Periods/Units:
    • AP U.S. History students’ mastery of Period 6 (1865–1898) is incredible. 34% of students achieved perfect scores on this period, the highest multiple-choice performance I’ve seen in any subject so far this year.
    • Students scored lowest, overall, on questions about Period 7 (1890–1945), with 9% of students earning perfect scores on this period.
  • Historical Thinking Skills:
    • Students scored impressively high on multiple-choice questions related to the skill of contextualization; 41% of students answered most or all of such questions correctly.
    • The most challenging skill for students in the multiple-choice section was Skill 5: Making Connections, which involves identifying patterns of causation, continuity, and change. 15% of students answered most or all of such questions correctly.
    • The highest performance in the free-response section was on Short Answer Question #2 about women and the World War II. 21% of AP U.S. History students achieved perfect scores as they charted developments in women’s history from 1900–1941 and from 1944–1970.
    • The lowest performance within this year’s AP U.S. History Exam was among the students who chose Short Answer Question #3 about American Indian relations with the United States from 1776–1815 and 1815–1848. 3% of students who chose this question earned perfect scores on it and 29% received 0 points.
    • 79% of students earned the thesis point
    • 52% of students earned the contextualization point
    • Evidence: 16% of students earned all 3 evidence points; 37% earned 2 points; 40% earned 1 point; 7% earned 0 points
    • Analysis & Reasoning: 5% earned 2 points; 29% earned 1 point; 66% earned 0 points.
  • The most popular long essay topic was “Trans-Atlantic voyages from 1491–1607,” chosen by 51% of students; students who chose this topic collectively earned a higher average score on it than students who chose either of the other 2 topics. 74% of these students earned the thesis point.
  • The second most popular topic was “international conflicts from 1898–1830,” chosen by 39% of students. 63% of these students earned the thesis point.
  • Relatively few students (10%) chose “reform activity from 1800–1848,” and many of those who did struggled to provide historical evidence or to generate a thesis. 49% of these students earned the thesis point.

The May 19 Digital Exams - To support student access, different testing modes—paper and digital—were essential. To protect exam security, many different exam versions were necessary. Accordingly, to provide students with similar opportunities for success regardless of which version they took, each version of the exam had to be analyzed separately by psychometricians to identify its unique difficulty level so that standards for scores of 3, 4, and 5 could then be separately identified for each exam version. Analyses focused on:

  • Differences in the testing mode (paper or digital). For sections of the exam that proved easier to take digitally, the digital versions require more points for each AP score. For sections of the exam that proved easier to take on paper, the paper exam requires more points for each AP score.
  • Differences in the difficulty of specific questions. When exam questions prove easier, more points are required for each AP score, and when exam questions prove more difficult, fewer points are required on one version than another.
  • Differences in versions of the exam. The net result for this year’s AP U.S. History Exams is that out of 140 points possible, most of the digital versions were more difficult than the paper version, and a few of the digital versions were easier than the paper version. As a result:
    • On the easiest digital version, a student needed to earn 3 more points to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
    • On the hardest digital version, a student needed to earn 10 fewer points to receive an AP score of 3 or higher than students who took the paper version.
World History 10.0% 18.0% 24.0% 30.0% 18.0% Jul 15
  • Students’ strongest skill in the mc section was contextualization; 17% of students earned most or all points possible among questions requiring the demonstration of that skill. Nice work.
  • Students’ best work in the free-response section was typically on Short Answer Question 2 about continuities and changes in gender roles in the late 19th century; 18% of students achieved perfect scores on their responses to this question.