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Advanced Placement

Advanced placement participation of Minnesota high school students


Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered in 241 (out of 432) 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 2014-2015:

  • 42,814 students took an AP exam, increasing 4.7 percent from last year.
  • 70,699 subject exams were taken in 34 subject-specific AP exams, increasing 4.2 percent from last year.
  • 46,529 exams (66 percent of total) had scores of 3 to 5, increasing 4.6 percent from last year.
  • 7,151 students of color (17 percent of total) took at least one AP exam, increasing 11 percent from last year.
  • 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, 2014-2015 Academic Year

Minnesota Students on Average Outscored the Nation on Advanced Placement Exams, 2014-2015 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 2015
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 Indian1600%23310846%
No response1,1823%1,48776952%
All Students42,814100%70,69946,52966%

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 34 percent of all subject-specific AP exams. The 24,384 math and science exams in 2015 increased from 2008 when 14,769 exams were taken.

73 Percent of Exams Taken by Minnesota Students Were in 10 Subject Areas
Rank Subject Number Percent of Total Percent Score 3 to 5
1History: United States7,81711.1%56%
2English Language & Composition6,8169.6%66%
3Mathematics: Calculus AB6,4009.1%63%
4Human Geography6,0688.6%64%
5English Literature & Composition5,5027.8%64%
8History: World3,9165.5%65%
10Government & Politics: United States2,9874.2%67%
 All Other Subjects18,89926.7% 

About the AP

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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