AP Biology Exam Information

Learn What Score You'll Need and What Course Credit You'll Receive

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The AP Biology exam has three main sections: molecules and cells, heredity and evolution, and organisms and populations. AP Biology is the most popular Advanced Placement course in the natural sciences. In 2016 over 238,000 students took the exam, and the mean score was 2.85. Most colleges and universities have a science and lab requirement, so a high score on the AP Biology exam will sometimes fulfill this requirement.

The distribution of scores for the AP Biology exam is as follows (2016 data):

  • 5 - 6.6%
  • 4 - 21.0%
  • 3 - 33.6%
  • 2 - 28.8%
  • 1 - 10.1%

The table below presents some representative data from a variety of colleges and universities. This information is meant to provide a general overview of the scoring and placement practices related to the AP Biology exam. For other schools, you'll need to explore the college website or contact the appropriate Registrar's office to get AP placement information.

AP Biology Scores and Placement
CollegeScore NeededPlacement Credit
Georgia Tech5BIOL 1510 (4 semester hours)
Grinnell College4 or 54 semester credits; no placement
Hamilton College4 or 51 credit after completing a course beyond BIO 110
LSU3, 4 or 5BIOL 1201, 1202 (6 credits) for a 3; BIOL 1201, 1202, 1208, & 1209 (8 credits) for a 4 or 5
MIT-no credit or placement for AP Biology
Mississippi State University4 or 5BIO 1123 (3 credits) for a 4; BIO 1123 and BIO 1023 (6 credits) for a 5
Notre Dame4 or 5Biological Sciences 10101 (3 credits) for a 4; Biological Sciences 10098 and 10099 (8 credits) for a 5
Reed College4 or 51 credit; no placement
Stanford University-No credit for AP Biology
Truman State University3, 4 or 5BIOL 100 Biology (4 credits) for a 3; BIOL 107 Introductory Biology I (4 credits) for a 4 or 5
UCLA (School of Letters and Science)3, 4 or 58 credits; no placement
Yale University51 credit; MCDB 105a or b, 107a, 109b, or 120a

To learn more specific information about the AP Biology exam, be sure to visit the official College Board website.

More About Advanced Placement Courses:

AP Biology can be an excellent choice for students who are planning a pre-health or pre-vet track in college. This are typically rigorous and structured academic paths, so placing out of a course gives you valuable flexibility in your college schedule.

And, of course, you'll be entering college with some college-level biology under your belt.

Whatever you plan to study in college, taking Advanced Placement classes in high school can be an extremely important piece of your college application. Your academic record is the most important piece of the admissions equation, and success in challenging college-preparatory classes is one of the most meaningful ways that a college can predict your college preparedness. 

Score and placement info for other AP subjects: Biology | Calculus AB | Calculus BC | Chemistry | English Language | English Literature | European History | Physics 1 | Psychology | Spanish Language | Statistics | U.S. Government | U.S. History | World History

For more information on AP classes and exams, check out these articles:

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Grove, Allen. "AP Biology Exam Information." ThoughtCo, Jan. 13, 2017, thoughtco.com/ap-biology-score-information-786945. Grove, Allen. (2017, January 13). AP Biology Exam Information. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ap-biology-score-information-786945 Grove, Allen. "AP Biology Exam Information." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ap-biology-score-information-786945 (accessed January 16, 2018).