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College Credit Based on AP Scores

August 30, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Brittany Whitley and Dr. Alan Moss

The Advanced Placement (AP) Program allows high school students to take college-level courses with the potential to earn college credit based on their performance on a standardized AP exam. Missouri currently allows institutions to determine their own policies regarding credit and placement for students with AP scores. House Bill 1683, filed in 2022, would require in-state public institutions of higher education to grant undergraduate course credit for scores of 3 or higher.


  • At least twenty states currently require state postsecondary institutions to award college credit for AP scores at or above a specific threshold (usually ≥ 3). 
  • Higher AP test scores are associated with better college course performance and on-time completion rates. 
  • Although participation of low-income, Black and Hispanic students in AP courses has increased over the past twenty years, there remain differences in AP participation in specific subject areas (e.g., computer science). 
  • Rural schools tend to offer fewer AP courses than urban and suburban schools. 
  • The cost of AP tests can be a barrier to low-income students receiving college credit from their high school coursework.


  • Because of disparities in access to AP courses, it is sometimes difficult to directly connect trends in college performance to AP scores in some cases. 


This Note has been updated. You can access the previous version (published August 2021) here.

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