If you've taken an AP exam recently or plan to take one soon, you're probably wondering: when do AP scores come out? Unfortunately, you have to wait a bit longer for AP scores than you do for SAT/ACT scores.
Keep reading to find out exactly when AP exam scores come out. In addition, learn where to find your AP scores and get tips on what you can do as you wait for them.
2021 AP Test Changes Due to COVID-19
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, AP tests will now be held over several 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.
AP Score Release Dates for 2021
In normal years, AP scores are released each year in early to mid-July. Each student would receive all their test scores at once, but score releases were rolled out over a few days. AP scores are typically released by rough geographic region. For example, in 2016 all the states on the east coast got their scores first, whereas those in the northwest got theirs last.
However, because of the pandemic and the resulting changes made to the AP testing schedule, AP scores releases are slightly different this year. The date you receive your AP scores will be based on when you took the exams. Exams are spread across four administrations, the first two in May, and the second two in June.
Here are when 2021 AP scores will be released:
|Date You Took the Exam||Score Release Date|
|Starting Wednesday, July 21 at 7 a.m. ET.|
(Administrations 3 and 4)
|By Monday, August 16|
Note two key words: For the first two administrations, scores are released starting July 21, so score releases may be staggered over several days the way they typically are. For administrations 3 and 4, the College Board states scores will be released by August 16, so you may get them slightly earlier. Exact release times appear to still be slightly up in the air, but this info gives you a good estimate of when to expect your 2021 AP scores.
Learn more about the 2021 score release schedule at the College Board website.
How Do I Get My AP Scores?
AP scores are posted online on the AP student website. You'll be able to access them through your College Board account, so make sure you have your username and password on hand. You'll also need your AP number or the student ID number you used on your AP answer sheet.
AP scores are only available online—you won't get a letter or score report in the mail. (Back when I was in high school, though, and as recently as 2013, scores were only mailed and usually arrived in mid-July. You should be excited about the online score system since it's much faster!)
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Why Does It Take So Long to Grade AP Tests?
While the fact that AP scores come out online saves some time, why does it take the College Board two months to grade AP exams when you can get your SAT scores after just a few weeks?
The reason for this is that it takes a long time to grade free-response questions. Although the multiple-choice sections are graded by a computer, free responses aren't graded until the annual AP Reading conference in June. (Graders will work from home this year due to the coronavirus.)
This event is basically a huge conference where thousands of high school teachers and professors gather to grade all the free-response sections on AP tests. The AP Reading usually lasts about two weeks. Since it doesn't start until June (to accommodate teachers' and professors' schedules), this makes the AP scoring process take longer.
This is an actual picture from the 2013 Reading conference for AP Studio Art. Each portfolio is looked at by more than seven graders! Read more here if you're curious about what happens during grading.
Once the conference is done, the College Board must work quickly to combine the free-response scores with the multiple-choice scores; this process involves weighing and then scaling them to the final 1-5 scoring scale. Readers have just two weeks to do all of this before final AP scores are posted online in July.
Even though the entire scoring process takes two months, it's actually quite a feat for more than four million AP exams to be graded by real people every single year!
Still Waiting for AP Scores? What to Do in the Meantime
Since there's no way to see your AP scores before they're posted online, you'll have to be patient and find a way to occupy yourself in the meantime.
AP exams typically end in May (though they extended into June in 2020 and 2021), but because most school years last until late May or June, try to finish the school year strong. Your GPA is very important in college admissions, so use your time (now that the AP tests are over!) to maximize your grades, especially in your AP classes.
Additionally, since you'll likely be taking finals around this time, make sure to study hard for these so that you can walk away from the class with a grade you're proud of. Finals often count for a big percentage of your overall class grade, so don't put off studying for them!
If you're a freshman or sophomore, you might want to use this time to jumpstart your ACT or SAT prep. It might seem early, but the earlier in your career you begin studying for these tests, the more familiar you'll become with them (and the better you're likely to do).
If you're a junior, you've hopefully already taken the SAT/ACT at least once. However, if you haven't, definitely use the time after your AP test to study for one. If you've already taken the SAT/ACT but plan to retake the test, try to dive into your studies once you're done with AP tests.
If you're a senior, you'll likely have already gotten your college decisions by the time AP tests are done, so finish the year strong and enjoy graduation!
Looking for help studying for your AP exam?
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What to Do After You Get Your AP Scores
If you've passed your AP exams, start exploring the College Board's college database to see where you can get credit for your scores. You can also read about the College Board's score reporting service and begin thinking more about the college application process (if you're a junior).
It won't be too long until you'll be filling this out for the first time. Start researching your options now!
On the other hand, if you didn't pass an AP test, you might want to consider retaking the exam next year, especially if it's a course you want to get college credit for. Talk to your guidance counselor and/or AP teacher to discuss your options.
Finally, check back online in August to see if you qualified for any of the AP Student awards. These are basically awards you get if you earn a certain number of passing scores on the AP tests. If you win an award, it will be included on any score reports you send to colleges. Nice!
Above, we mentioned using your time after APs are over to jumpstart your SAT/ACT studying. Here are some of our best resources you can use:
- Develop an SAT/ACT studying timeline to maximize your score
- Learn key strategies to improve your scores on SAT Math, Reading, Writing, and the Essay
- Hear about the most common ACT mistake and get tips on how to write a perfect essay
- Find practice tests for both the SAT and the ACT, for free online
- Use your dream schools to come up with a target SAT or target ACT score
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Halle Edwards graduated from Stanford University with honors. In high school, she earned 99th percentile ACT scores as well as 99th percentile scores on SAT subject tests. She also took nine AP classes, earning a perfect score of 5 on seven AP tests. As a graduate of a large public high school who tackled the college admission process largely on her own, she is passionate about helping high school students from different backgrounds get the knowledge they need to be successful in the college admissions process.