You might think the term "AP Scholar" just refers to anyone who takes studying for AP exams really seriously. But it's actually an awards program offered by the College Board. In this article, I'll go over what an AP Scholar is, what you need to achieve to become one, what it means to be one, and some tips on getting the award if it's something you're interested in.
2021 AP Test Changes Due to COVID-19
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, AP tests will now be held over three different sessions between May and June. Your test dates, and whether or not your tests will be online or on paper, will depend on your school. To learn more about how all of this is going to work and get the latest information on test dates, AP online review, and what these changes means for you, be sure to check out our 2021 AP COVID-19 FAQ article.
What Is an AP Scholar?
An AP Scholar is, broadly speaking, someone who has received an award from the College Board for doing well on several AP exams. There are several award levels according to how many exams the student scored highly on, as well as their average AP score.
What Does It Mean to Be an AP Scholar?
If you have an AP Scholar award, you can list it on resumes and college applications. It will signal that you did well on multiple AP exams. The designation will appear on your official AP exam scores, and you will receive a certificate in the mail the September following the time you receive the designation. Sadly, you do not get any money from this award, but it's nice to have recognition of all your hard work! Of course, the higher-up your designation, the more impressive it is.
Gold star for you!
AP Scholar Awards and How You Earn Them
What "level" of award you are offered generally depends on three criteria:
#1: How many AP exams you have gotten a score of 3 or higher on.
#2: Your average AP exam score.
#3: Where your high school is located.
You can receive the next "level" of award in subsequent years as you take more AP exams. In this table, I'll lay out all the criteria for the different AP Scholar award tiers—the AP Scholar requirements, if you will.
AP Scholar Requirements
|Award Designation||School Location Requirements||Score/Number Requirements||Required Average AP Score on all APs taken|
|AP Scholar||(none)||3 or better on 3+ AP exams||(n/a)|
|AP Scholar with Honor||(none)||3 or better on 4+ AP exams||3.25|
|AP Scholar with Distinction||(none)||3 or better on 5+ AP exams||3.5|
|National AP Scholar||United States||4 or better on 8+ AP exams||4|
|National AP Scholar (Canada)||Canada||4 or better on 5+ AP exams||4|
|National AP Scholar (Bermuda)||Bermuda||4 or better on 5+ AP exams||4|
|State AP Scholar (granted to 1 male and 1 female student per state)||Each US state||Greatest number of exams with scores of 3 or higher in the state||Highest average of those who took the greatest number of exams with scores 3+|
|DoDEA AP Scholar (granted to 1 male and 1 female student)||DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) school students||Greatest number of exams with scores of 3 or higher in DoDEA schools||Highest average of those who took the greatest number of exams with scores 3+|
|International AP Scholar (granted to 1 male and 1 female student)||Attends school outside US or Canada that is not DoDEA school||Greatest number of exams with scores of 3 or higher in international schools||Highest average of those who took the greatest number of exams with scores 3+|
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Step one to becoming an AP Scholar: pick your books off the floor.
How to Become an AP Scholar
If you want to be an AP Scholar, at the most basic level you need to take AP exams! You also need to make an effort to score a 3 or higher on every exam you take, not just the minimum number for the Scholar designation you're going for since lower scores will bring your average down and limit your ability to meet the score average requirements to be an AP Scholar.
If you want to meet a certain level before you apply to college, you'll need to take the requisite AP exams by the end of your junior year, so that you'll get the award by your senior fall.
However, my recommendation would be not to stress too much about the AP Scholar program. For one thing, when you get to the highest levels of the award, whether you get the award or not is somewhat outside of your control, since you can't control how many AP exams other people take or what their average score is.
If you get an AP Scholar award, great! But colleges will be able to see your complete AP score report either way, and they know which APs and AP courses are most challenging. It's better to take a rigorous course of study and not quite qualify for the next Scholar level than to front-load with content-light APs to get the award.
This strange baby-man is actually a National AP Scholar.
The AP Scholar awards are a series of awards given by the College Board for students who have gotten high scores on a number of AP exams. There are different "levels" of the award depending on the number of AP exams a student has gotten a high score on, their average AP exam score, and where they go to school.
If you want to be an AP Scholar, you'll need to take AP classes and be sure to do well on your exams! However, I don't recommend stressing too much about these awards — your time is better spent on other projects that will be more impressive to colleges.
If you're thinking about other AP achievements, you might be wondering if you need an AP test perfect score. Or you may want to know the average score for each AP exam, or even how AP exams are scored.
One of the single most important parts of your college application is what classes you choose to take in high school (in conjunction with how well you do in those classes). Our team of PrepScholar admissions experts have compiled their knowledge into this single guide to planning out your high school course schedule. We'll advise you on how to balance your schedule between regular and honors/AP/IB courses, how to choose your extracurriculars, and what classes you can't afford not to take.
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Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.