What Are AP Scholar Awards?



The most important factor in college admissions is a student's high school GPA, an average calculated by incorporating the number of courses and their relative difficulty. One way to strengthen the rigor of a high school course load is to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses and scoring well on the related exam. A student with sufficient AP exam scores will not only stand out amongst other college applicants, but also have the opportunity to jump start his or her college major. Rising tuition costs and admission selectivity are driving more and more students to take AP exams each May.


The distinguished AP Scholar titles, the pinnacle of AP Exam testing, have historically been one of the top honors a student can receive in their high school years. Listed below are some of the different titles awarded based on various AP Exam performance:



AP Scholar

Granted to students who receive scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP Exams


AP Scholar with Honor

Granted to students who receive an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams


AP Scholar with Distinction

Granted to students who receive an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exam.


National AP Scholar

Granted to students in the United States who receive an average score of at least 4 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams



The following dashboard summarizes the distribution of these AP scholar titles by student grade and resident state across the nation. For example, California, the nation's most populous state, had the greatest number of 12th grade AP Scholars in all relevant categories. The states of Texas, Florida, and New York (the nation's other most populous states), also had a larger number of high school seniors receiving AP Scholar awards than any other states.


Being awarded the AP Scholar title is a significant achievement, one that any high school student should feel proud to list on their college applications. In order to guarantee the Scholar title, some high-achieving students start taking AP exams even before they enter the 9th grade. In 2018, 138 high school freshmen were awarded AP Scholar, 90 were awarded AP Scholar with Honor, and 98 AP Scholar with Distinction. Most impressively, four 9th graders in Arizona were awarded the AP National Scholar title; in other words, each of them received a minimum average of 4 in all the AP exams and scored 4 or more in at least 8 of these exams. We at Peninsula Academy applaud these early high achievers and hope they sustain their rigorous academic pursuit of knowledge.

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