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Understanding AP Scholar Awards

AP exams — the tests that are the culmination to Advanced Placement high school classes — were administered over two weeks in May. This is the part, then, when students anxiously await the results. The wait is almost over: 2018 AP scores will be available beginning July 5. Scores are released over a few days and by geographical region. Students will be able to access their scores through their College Board account.

Many students and parents are wondering how AP classes come into play for the college admissions process. Colleges do not solely focus on a student’s GPA; they examine the rigor of the courses taken. Taking challenging AP courses will provide an edge when applying to college.

What Is an AP Scholar?

An AP Scholar is a student who receives an award from the College Board for outstanding performance on several AP exams. There are different award levels. Being an AP Scholar offers many advantages for students. For starters, you can list it on your college applications and resume.

AP classes offer another big perk: the opportunity to earn college credit. Many universities give credit for qualifying AP scores, thus AP exams also allow students to save money and get a head start on their degree while still in high school. Each university sets its own criteria regarding awarding credit. The minimum required score to earn credit can vary based on the university.

There is no need to apply for AP awards. When a student receives an AP award, they are notified by email and the award is added the students’ online score report. Students can log in to the College Board website to view their AP scores and awards. If the student is selected as a State AP Scholar, the printed award certificate is sent to the state’s superintendent of education for distribution.

AP award levels explained

  • AP Scholar – Awarded to students who score 3 or more on at least three AP exams.
  • AP Scholar with Honor – Awarded to students who have averaged a minimum of 3.25 on the AP exams they take and score 3 or more on at least four of those exams.
  • AP Scholar with Distinction – Awarded to students who average a minimum of 3.5 on all their AP exams and score 3 or more on at least five of these exams.
  • State AP Scholar – Awarded to one male and female student in each state. The student must have a score of 3 or more on the highest number of AP exams, as well as the highest average score on all the exams they take.
  • National AP Scholar – Awarded to students who average at least a score of 4 in all the AP exams they take and score 4 or more in at least 8 of these exams.
  • DoDEA AP Scholar – Awarded to one male and female student attending one of the Department of Defense Education Activity schools. Whoever has the greatest average score on the highest number of AP exams among all the students in the school receives this award. A minimum score of 3 is mandatory.
  • International AP Scholar – Awarded to one male and female student attending a school outside the United States or Canada with the greatest average score on the highest number of AP exams. A minimum score of 3 is mandatory.
  • Seminar and Research Certificate – Awarded to students who score 3 or more in both AP Research and AP Seminar.
  • Capstone Diploma – Awarded to students who get a score of 3 or more in AP Research and AP Seminar and any four additional AP exams of their choice.

Deadlines to watch out for: 

If a student wants to qualify for any of these AP awards before applying to college, they need to take the requisite exams by the end of their junior year so that they can receive the award by fall of senior year. This will ensure that the colleges you are applying will be able to know about this award and take it into consideration when reviewing your application.

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Author: Kristen Moon

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one coaching services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

Understanding AP Scholar Awards