Posted in HS4CC

AP Scores Are Coming: What if You Only Got a 2?

July 15 is the “big day” for students who took the Advanced Placement exams this past May – scores are posted.  Based on a grade scale of 1-5, students earning at least a 3 are typically awarded college credit.  What about those who only scored a 2? You need Plan B.

Advanced Placement students have often logged an enormous number of study-hours, typically well above the standard expected in a typical high school class.  But even with the extra work, students who don’t pull a 3 or higher often don’t receive the benefits of college credit.  In contrast, students who took the same course for dual enrollment often will receive college credit, and without the pressure of the entire decision hanging on one big exam.

Earning a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement exam isn’t always simply a matter of whether the student knows the material.  AP exams require written responses for almost every question.  Students who know the “facts” of the exam may still struggle with earning a high score if they struggle to articulate those ideas in their written form.  The mere format of this exam poses exceptional challenges for students that are very bright.  The AP exam takes place in a group setting with strangers, at a school that the student may not attend, requires a timed essay and short answer responses, uses the physical form of a pen and pencil while many students are more comfortable typing, and requires mastery of grammar and penmanship.

All AP scores are calculated and cataloged each year by The College Board.  We know that in any given year, depending on the exam, roughly 30% – 40% of all test-takers will NOT earn a high enough AP score to qualify for college credit!

We know that about 5 million AP exams were attempted last year, so based on The College Board’s own data, there are about 1.75 million students who have put in the hard work and are walking away with nothing.

Plan B

Students who scored at least a 2 should take the CLEP exam if available (see chart). Chances are excellent that they already have enough knowledge to pass the CLEP – in a few cases, they’ve already studied for TWO exams.

While there is not a “matching” CLEP exam for every AP subject, if the subject is available, your student can complete a very short test review program (free) using Modern States, and will receive a voucher to attempt the CLEP exam for free!  CLEP is $89 if you don’t get the voucher – so get the voucher! Passing the CLEP exam may allow them to earn college credit that was previously considered lost. About half of all accredited colleges will award college credit for a passed CLEP exam, it’s worth getting even if you’re not sure that you’ll use it.

Note:  you can’t get “extra” credit- if your teen’s AP score is high enough to receive college credit, the college won’t give you “extra” credit for also passing the CLEP.

Orange County Florida received recognition for taking this strategy into the public schools.  Read the full story.  Teachers collected their students who scored a “2” and conducted a short summer boot camp in preparation for the “Plan B” CLEP exam. Teachers reported a 100% pass rate among students they prepped for the CLEP exam.  Here is what the Spanish teacher had to say:

“We’ve just added the Spanish Language exam to our CLEP program. We reached out to students who scored a 2 on their AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam and gave them the opportunity to review materials and participate in a tutorial. Everyone who took the CLEP exam passed and the scores were phenomenal, in the mid to high 60s.”  -Marjorie Ceballos, Orange County Public Schools

Don’t be confused by the teacher’s comments.  Scores in the high 60’s are exceptional.  CLEP exams are scored on a scale of 20 to 80 with a passing threshold of 50.

You scored a 2 on this AP exam… you can probably pass this CLEP exam(s)
AP Art History or AP Music Theory Humanities
AP French Language & Culture French Language
AP German Language & Culture German Language
AP Spanish Language & Culture Spanish Language


Spanish with Writing

AP Spanish Literature & Culture Spanish Language


Spanish with Writing

AP English Literature & Composition Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
AP United States Government and Politics American Government
AP United States History History of the United States I


History of the United States II

AP Macroeconomics Princ. of Macroeconomics
AP Microeconomics Princ. of Microeconomics
AP Psychology Introductory Psychology
AP Calculus AB or BC Calculus
AP Biology Biology
AP Chemistry Chemistry
AP Biology and you’ve taken either high school Chemistry or Physics (not AP) Natural Science

My other pages that will help you plan:

Compare CLEP and AP

AP Guides for CLEP?

Efficient Studying for a CLEP exam

Use Modern States CLEP Program and get a CLEP for FREE


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit