Skip Navigation
Digest of Education Statistics: 2017
Digest of Education Statistics: 2017

NCES 2018-070
January 2018

Appendix A.5. The College Board

Advanced Placement Exam

The Advanced Placement (AP) program is a curriculum sponsored by the College Board that offers high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses in a high school setting. A student taking an AP course in high school can earn college credit for participation by attaining a certain minimum score on the AP exam in that subject area.

The AP program offers 38 courses and exams. In most cases, the College Board does not require students to take an AP course before taking an AP exam. AP exams are given in the first two weeks in May. Most of the exams take 2 to 3 hours to complete. The scores for all AP exams range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score.



The Admissions Testing Program of the College Board is made up of a number of college admissions tests, including the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) and the Scholastic Assessment Test, now known as the SAT. High school students participate in the testing program as sophomores, juniors, or seniors––some more than once during these three years. If they have taken the tests more than once, only the most recent scores are tabulated. The PSAT and SAT report subscores in the areas of mathematics and verbal ability.

Each year, approximately 1 1/2 million students take the SAT examination. SAT results are not representative of high school students or college-bound students nationally, however, since the sample is self-selected (i.e., taken by students who need the results to apply to a particular college or university). In addition, public colleges in many states—particularly those in the Midwest, parts of the South, and the West—require ACT scores rather than SAT scores; thus, the proportion of students taking the SAT in these states is very low and is inappropriate for comparison. The current version of the SAT, which includes an optional writing component among other content, format, and scoring changes, was first administered in March 2016.

Further information on AP and the SAT may be obtained from

The College Board National Office
250 Vesey Street
New York, NY 10281