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Advanced Placement

Advanced placement participation of Minnesota high school students

Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered in 241 (out of 444) Minnesota high schools to prepare students to take exams offered by the College Board. This program gives students the opportunity to take college-level courses while in high school and is one of several college prep options available to Minnesota high school students.

Of Minnesota test takers in 2015-2016:

  • 43,780 students took an AP exam, increasing 2.3 percent from last year.
  • 71,136 subject exams were taken in 34 subject-specific AP exams, increasing 0.6 percent from last year.
  • 46,866 exams (66 percent of total) had scores of 3 to 5, increasing 0.7 percent from last year.
  • 9,582 students of color (22 percent of total) took at least one AP exam, increasing 34 percent from last year. See note below on changes in data collection.
  • Minnesota students of color had a lower percentage of scores 3 to 5 on AP exams than White students. However, Minnesota students outscored students nationally across all race/ethnic groups, except Asian students.

Minnesota Students on Average Outscored the Nation on Advanced Placement Exams, 2015-2016 Academic Year

Minnesota Students on Average Outscored the Nation on Advanced Placement Exams, 2015-2016 Academic Year

* An AP score of at least 3, on a scale of 1 to 5, is an indicator of ability to perform successful work at most colleges.

Source: College Board

AP Participation by Race/Ethnicity in Minnesota 2016
Race/Ethnicity Number of Test Takers Percent of Test Takers Number of Exams Taken Number of Scores 3 to 5 Percent of Scores 3 to 5
American Indian1240%1706538%
Two or More Races1,7324%2,8311,79063%
No response7042%95950252%
All Students43,780100%71,13646,86666%

AP exams are scored on a scale from 1 to 5. Scores in the 3 to 5 range is the cut score used by most colleges to award college credit to new entering students.

Source: College Board

74 Percent of Exams were Taken in 10 Subjects
Subject Number Percent of Total Percent Score 3 to 5
History: United States8,11311.4%58%
English Language & Composition6,7839.5%64%
Mathematics: Calculus AB6,1518.6%63%
Human Geography5,8728.3%62%
English Literature & Composition5,4527.7%67%
History: World4,1195.8%65%
Mathematics: Calculus BC2,8834.1%81%
Total Top 1052,62474.0%

Minnesota AP Participation Trends
Year Number of
Test Takers
Number of
Exams Taken*
Number of
Scores 3-5**
Number of
Minnesota High Schools
Offering AP Courses

*Candidates may take exams in more than one subject.

**AP exams are scored on a scale from 1 to 5. Scores in the 3 to 5 range is the cut score used by most colleges to award college credit to new entering students.

Source: College Board

AP Exams Taken in Mathematics and Science Grows

The number of biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, calculus, physics and statistics exams accounted for 35 percent of all subject-specific AP exams. The 24,761 math and science exams in 2016 increased from 2008 when 14,769 exams were taken.

AP Subject-Specific Exam Trends
Subject 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2016 percent of total exams
Art History1912462251652262011902321830.30%
Art: Drawing Portfolio1171581501751751831882121950.30%
Art: Studio -2D Design1061461882202952803092914090.60%
Art: Studio -3D Design345362981111271001121200.20%
Chinese Language and Culture21251654434577811220.20%
Computer Science A1121952392602513775176666941.00%
Computer Science AB314000000000.00%
Economics: Macro1,5801,5732,0021,9022,2002,0382,2292,2962,3183.30%
Economics: Micro87585596411331,2781,4421,5031,5821,2751.80%
English Language & Composition4,2714,8255,0465,7916,6426,8017,1216,8166,7839.50%
English Literature & Composition4,6445,4936,0345,8135,8695,5065,6255,5025,4527.70%
Environmental Science3674255207178288418569079991.40%
French Language2182681582321992192192342330.30%
French Literature383400000000.00%
German Language1001261071228283101107930.10%
Government & Politics: Comparative3064324984305275445094734740.70%
Government & Politics: United States2,2002,6262,6952,6402,8413,2942,9042,9872,8484.00%
History: European2,4112,2812,2182,3752,6182,4422,5232,0831,9732.80%
History: United States5,7776,2606,8197,2857,7998,0638,5167,8178,11311.40%
History: World1,8372,3072,3182,6123,0223,5623,5523,9164,1195.80%
Human Geography1,2451,6372,1072,8903,1223,5854,6286,0685,8728.30%
Japanese Language and Culture161191131271480.00%
Latin: Literature24200000000.00%
Latin: Vergil375374951535953450.10%
Mathematics: Calculus AB4,4374,7764,8885,2185,3695,9516,0746,4006,1518.60%
Mathematics: Calculus BC1,5661,8201,7621,8262,1522,2512,4462,6962,8834.10%
Music: Theory1661372082072012031311861440.20%
Physics 11,0171,1461,1721,3931,5321,7001,6302,5432,1443.00%
Physics 22130.30%
Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism1851782061992172482183412160.30%
Physics C: Mechanics3603824604984775486187155910.80%
Spanish Language7548668478387887757881,0131,0821.50%
Spanish Literature5958767951586778880.10%
Total exams taken44,28149,49753,23956,94262,02364,70967,83070,69871,136100.00%

Source: College Board

About the AP

College Board Race/Ethnic Background notes: Beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, test-takers were given new options for reporting race/ethnicity; caution should be used in comparing data collected from previous years.

The College Board administers the Advanced Placement (AP) exam. Most students study for the AP exam by taking year-long AP specific courses offered through their high school. AP exams can also be taken by any student who has taken strong courses or studied in-depth on their own. AP coursework is available online through a variety of private education companies. The exams are optional. More students may take AP courses in high school then sit for the exam.

An AP grade of at least 3, on a scale of 1 to 5, is an indicator of an ability to do successful work at most colleges. Some colleges will grant new entering freshmen college credit if they obtain certain grades on their AP exams. Policies on granting college credit vary by college.

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