The Relationship Between AP Exam Performance and College Outcomes

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Krista D. Mattern
Xinhui Xiong
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This study focused on the relationship between students’ performance in AP English Language, Biology, Calculus, and U.S. History, and their subsequent college success. For each AP Exam studied, students were divided into three groups according to their AP Exam performance (no AP Exam taken, score of 1 or 2, and a score of 3 or higher). Subsequent college success was measured by students’ first-year college grade point average (FYGPA), retention to the second year, and institutional selectivity. Results indicated that, even after controlling for students’ SAT scores and high school grade point average as measures of prior academic performance, students with an AP score of 3 or higher outperformed the other two groups. Additionally, students with an AP score of 1 or 2 tended to outperform students with no AP scores except in terms of FYGPA.

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