What score do I need on the AP® U.S. History Exam for college credit?

The Advanced Placement® U.S. History Exam allows you to earn college credit for that subject while you’re still in high school. That means when you get to college, you’ll have even more time to focus on learning subjects that interest you.

If you’re a student, you’re probably wondering:

What score do I need on the AP® U.S. History exam to earn college credit?

For most colleges and universities, you’ll need a three or higher to qualify for credit.

However, the answer is a little more complicated than that. Let’s take a look how you can find the score you need and what that means for you.

But first, it’s important you understand exactly how the AP® U.S. History Exam works.

Breaking down the AP® U.S. History Exam

Many colleges require students to fulfill a history credit before they graduate. However, if you take the AP® U.S. History Exam and attain a certain score, you can qualify for credit toward that requirement.

The test covers all of U.S. History from 1491 to present day with a focus on seven broader themes. Those themes are:

  1. American and National Identity
  2. Politics and Power
  3. Work, Exchange, and Technology
  4. Culture and Society
  5. Migration and Settlement
  6. Geography and the Environment
  7. America in the World

When you begin the test, you’ll have three hours and 15 minutes to complete it. The structure of the test itself is made up of a 95-minute section of multiple-choice and short-answer questions, and a 100-minute writing section where you will answer two essay prompts. Learn first hand what the exam is like by trying a practice test.

Now that you know what to expect from the exam, let’s find out exactly how you can find the score you need for specific colleges and universities.

How to find the score you need on the AP® U.S. History Exam

The AP® Exam’s scoring system is on a scale of one to five—with five being the best and one being the worst.

Here’s a good table that breaks down the score you could get and what it means.

AP Score

What it means


Best. The highest score you can get on your AP® Exam. This score typically guarantees college credit or placement out of a required course at colleges that accept AP® Exams.


Excellent. While not the highest, this is still a very good score. You’ll usually get college credit with it.


Very Good. This is often called a “passing” score and is the usual threshold for colleges to give you credit, though not at the most competitive colleges.


Okay. Even though this is not a “passing” score, it can still reflect some significant improvement over the course of a year.


Not the best. We all have to start from somewhere!

When it comes to AP® U.S. History, you’ll want to aim for a score of 3 or higher. Most colleges will give you college credit if you score within that range.

It varies from college to college though. So, if you want to know the score that a specific college will accept in exchange for credit, you’ll need to check with the college’s registrar’s office to find out information about AP® credit for the AP® U.S. History Exam. Often, you can find this information on the school’s website. You can also check out the College Board’s search tool for AP® credit policies.

NOTE: Colleges sometimes change their requirements for awarding college credit or offering placement out of required courses. So always check in with the college to make sure you have the most relevant and recent information.

What this means to you

Bottom line: You’re going to want to score as high as you possibly can. Sure your dream school only requires a 3—but you should always be aiming for the highest possible score regardless.

When you get that credit, you will effectively be walking into college with part of the requirements already completed. It means you could skip a history requirement and take whatever class you wanted to. Or, you could even save money on college tuition by spending less time getting credits. Either way, getting that college credit before college is a great way to set yourself up for the next four years. Read more about how AP® exams helped Marco Learning’s tutors earn college credits.

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