The Large Racial Gap in Advanced Placement Examination Scores

AP-thumbThe College Board has released its tenth annual report on participation in the Advanced Placement program. This year’s report examined the performance of students in the high school graduating Class of 2013.

College admissions officers are impressed with the records of students who make the extra effort and take the grading risk in AP courses. Now, presented with a transcript that shows a student has faced up to these rigorous programs of study, admissions officers often confer a deserved advantage in the admissions process to students of all races who enroll in AP programs. Some, higher education institutions give college credit for students who successfully complete AP courses. But the number of colleges offering credit for high achieving students in AP courses has dwindled in recent years.

African Americans in the high school Class of 2013 took 266,001 Advanced Placement tests. This was nearly 7 percent of all AP tests administered to students in the Class of 2013.

AP exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. A score of 5 on the AP exam is equivalent to receiving a grade of A in a similar college course. An AP test score of 4 is equivalent to a college grade of B and so on down the line. Students scoring 3 or above on the AP test are deemed to have successfully completed the AP course.

For the Class of 2013, the average score on AP examinations for African American students was 2.03. For all students the average score was 2.87. For White students the average score was a full point (or equivalent to a full letter grade) higher than the average score for Black students.

Of the 266,001 AP exams taken by Black students, only 29.7 percent achieved a passing grade of 3 or above. For Whites the figure was 64.7 percent. Only 3.6 percent of AP examinations taken by African American students received the top score of 5, demonstrating a mastery of the college-level subject matter. For Whites the figure was 14.8 percent.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Appointed to New Academic Positions

Leon Prieto, Kofi Afrifah, and Andrea Moore have been appointed to new academic positions at Clayton University, Bowie State University, and Savannah State University, respectively.

Historic HBCU Landmark Revitalized Through National Park Service Grant

Through three restoration grants totaling $2 million, the Rosenwald Practice School and Principal House will be fully restored, becoming the new home for the Northeastern North Carolina African American Research and Cultural Heritage Institute.

Five Black Leaders Appointed to Administrative Positions

Here is this week’s roundup of African American who have been appointed to new administrative positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to

North Carolina A&T University Establishes Research Partnership with Collins Aerospace

“There are direct relations to the research we do in the College of Engineering and the mission purpose of Collins Aerospace,” said Stephanie Luster-Teasley, interim dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. “Being able to partner with Collins really gives our students the opportunities for hands-on research at each level – undergraduate and graduate.”

Featured Jobs