Is A 3 On An AP Exam Good & Does It Affect Your Chances Of Getting Into College? 

High school students take AP exams for many reasons. According to College Board, the number of students that took at least one AP exam increased from 752,255 to 1,242,990 students between 2008 and 2018. 

Most take AP exams to get a head start on college-level materials, and others wish to get some college credits. So, is a 3 on an AP exam good?

Generally, a 3 on an AP exam is a good score. But whether or not it is good depends on the standard of the university you wish to apply to. 

In this article, I will be talking about AP scores, what they are used for, what an ideal AP score is, and why getting one is important.

What do AP exams mean and how are they scored?

AP exam is a standardized exam designed to test how well a student has mastered the contents and skills of a particular course. They are scored on a 1 – 5 scale. 1, which is the lowest possible score, is considered an F while 5 is A.

The College Board defines each AP score as follows;

1 – Not recommended to earn college credit
2 – slightly qualified to receive college credit
3 – Satisfactory and qualified to receive college credit
4 – Eligible or well-qualified to receive college credit
5 – Extremely qualified to receive college credit

Each school has its set policies for giving credit. For example, a 3 on an AP exam is good enough to get credit from California State University. However, this score is not good enough to get credit from Duke University’s Trinity College of Art & Science.

What is the Average AP score?

According to The College Board, the average AP score is said to be 2.89. This is based on their report from the last 10 years.

Generally, a score of 3 is a pass, an ideal AP score is one above 3, which is a 4 or a 5. These scores are considered the gold standard scores and are likely to increase your chances of getting the credit you need. 

Below is a breakdown of AP scores and the percentage of students that earned those scores.

ScorePercentage of Students

Note that these are the average score on AP exams carried out and not the average on particular subjects. The average AP score for each subject varies, as some may be easier than others.

Why is getting a good AP score important?

There are many reasons why getting an ideal or a very good AP is important. Some of these reasons include the following;

1. You earn the credit you deserve

Getting an ideal AP score will automatically earn you the credit you worked so hard for. The good thing about these college credits is that it automatically means that you can take fewer courses while in college.

Since you have already completed those classes, the cost of dual enrolment programs would be significantly lesser than typical undergraduate tuition.

2. It can give you a better chance during admission

Many admission officers respect students who take the extra step of challenging themselves with college-level materials. Particularly when you score high, this increases your chance of getting admitted.

3. You get familiar quickly with college studies

Getting a very good AP score means you were able to learn and understand advanced materials. If you could do this while you were in high school, you shouldn’t find it too rigorous when you start college.

Does earning a low AP score affect your chances of getting into college?

While getting a good score gives you the edge, getting a bad score doesn’t take you out of the competition. 

AP courses aren’t easy, and you getting a low score doesn’t mean you aren’t fit for college. It is the effort that actually counts in situations like this.

Admission officers are more likely to rank a student who took an advanced placement class than students who didn’t. So, no, getting a low AP score doesn’t affect your chances of getting into college.


Which AP classes should you take?

The best practice is to take AP classes that match your interest or career goals. However, they should be ones that are well within your capability.

Is a 3 a good score for AP English Literature and Composition?

Well, considering that the average AP score for this subject is 2.47, according to The College Board, it is a good score.

What is a 3 on an AP exam equivalent to?

A 3 on an AP exam is equivalent to a C.

Do AP scores count during college admission?

Yes, they do. Although it is not a requirement, they do count during the admission process.

What is a bad AP score?

A bad AP score is 1, which is equivalent to an F.

Conclusion: Is a 3 on an AP exam good?

A 3 on an AP exam is generally considered to be a good score. However, if you aim to attend competitive universities, a score higher than 3 should suffice.

Getting good AP scores has so many advantages. Mainly it gives you college credits which have their own advantages. It also makes your application to be more competitive as it shows how prepared you are.

Nevertheless, even though you scored a 3 on an AP exam and is not enough to earn you credit for your dream school, you need not worry. It doesn’t affect your chances of getting into college.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. In addition to you AP score, SAT scores are also huge factors in the admission process for many schools, you should see what a good SAT score is and some tips to help.

Thanks for reading.