Shaun Ault

Average Score on AP Calculus BC Exam

What’s an average AP Calculus BC score? If you’ve just taken the test or plan to do so next year, then this question has probably crossed your mind.

Glad you asked! -Magoosh

In this post, we will discuss scores on the AP Calculus BC exam and how those scores can benefit you in your college career.

The Calculus BC Score

Unlike the SAT or ACT, the AP exams have a very small range of possible scores: 1 through 5.

The main reason for this scheme is that each numeric score represents a different level of mastery, much like the letter grade system that you probably use in your school.

According to College Board, here is how you might interpret your numeric score.

  1. No recommendation (F)
  2. Possibly qualified (D)
  3. Qualified (C)
  4. Well qualified (B)
  5. Extremely well qualified (A)

See the following helpful article for more details: What Are AP Test Scores?

AB Subscore

In addition, when you take the Calculus BC exam, you will receive a separate score called the AB subscore. This subscore is also in the range from 1 to 5.

The AB subscore measures how well you did on just the AB material on the test. In other words, if you had taken the AP Calculus AB exam instead, then your score would probably be at or around the level of your AB subscore.

A small number of colleges and universities will award credit or waive a pre-requisite calculus course based on a high enough AB subscore, even if your overall BC score was not very high.

BC Exam Score Distribution

You can look up data about the AP exam scores here.

Below you can see a chart showing the percentages of students scoring at each level.

AP Calculus BC score distribution

AP Calculus BC score distribution

As you can see, most students do score in the 4-5 range. In fact, almost half of the students taking the BC test earn a 5.

The median score is 4.

Let’s figure out the average!

(.126)(1) + (.059)(2) + (.176)(3) + (.155)(4) + (.484)(5) = 3.812

But Don’t Expect an Easy Exam!

Now does this mean that the BC test is really easy?

Not sure if Math Problem is Easy or...

Absolutely not!

The AP Calculus BC exam is probably one of the most challenging standardized tests that you could take while in high school. It covers the equivalent of two full semesters of college level calculus.

Rise to the Challenge

So why are the scores typically so high on this test?

Scores tend to be high on the BC exam because only those students who know that they will succeed and have prepared adequately will sign up for the test.

If you’re in AP Calculus in high school, your teacher may give an incentive for signing up for an AP exam (for example, allowing you to skip the final exam if you take the AP). The end result is that many students sign up for the easier of the two exams (AP Calculus AB) just to avoid a final.

Only the truly dedicated and motivated students who want to work primarily in a STEM major in college would consider taking the BC test.

teen studying in kitchen

I’m ready for this!

Go After It!

So if you feel that you’re up to the challenge, and you want to try to earn the equivalent of an entire year of calculus at your chosen college or university, then go for it!

Keep in mind that the Calculus BC exam will not be easy. However, if you know the material and have prepared yourself by doing innumerable practice problems and mock tests, then you too can score a 5.

About Shaun Ault

Shaun earned his Ph. D. in mathematics from The Ohio State University in 2008 (Go Bucks!!). He received his BA in Mathematics with a minor in computer science from Oberlin College in 2002. In addition, Shaun earned a B. Mus. from the Oberlin Conservatory in the same year, with a major in music composition. Shaun still loves music -- almost as much as math! -- and he (thinks he) can play piano, guitar, and bass. Shaun has taught and tutored students in mathematics for about a decade, and hopes his experience can help you to succeed!


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