AP English Language Score and College Credit Information

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

Students with strong English language skills might earn college credit with the AP English Language exam.
Students with strong English language skills might earn college credit with the AP English Language exam. PeopleImages.com / Getty Images

English Language and Composition is one of the most popular Advanced Placement subjects with over half a million students taking the exam each year. College credit and placement varies significantly from school to school, but many colleges will award writing or humanities credit if students do well on the AP English Language exam.

About the AP English Language and Composition Course and Exam

The AP English Language and Composition course covers a broad range of reading and writing activities.

The end goal is to develop a student's ability to become critical and responsive readers of a wide range of texts, and to strengthen a student's skill both with Standard Written English and different generic and rhetorical forms. On an even broader level, the course is designed to develop essential skills for thoughtful engagement in civic life.

Some of the more specific outcomes of the course include learning to...

  • analyze and interpret both written texts and visual images to understand what the work is saying, how it says it, and why the author or artist created the work.
  • use different rhetorical and writing strategies that are matched to the purpose of a piece of writing.
  • make and sustain an original argument grounded in careful reading, research, and use of personal experience.
  • evaluate research sources for their credibility.
  • integrate and cite secondary sources properly in a piece of writing.
  • practice writing as a process that involves drafting, revision, and editing.
  • write in ways that are appropriate for a specific audience.

The AP English Language exam consists of a one-hour multiple choice section and a two-hour and fifteen-minute free-response writing section.

AP English Language and Composition Score Information

In 2017, 579,426 students took the exam.

55% of test-takers received a score of a 3 or higher and the possibility of receiving college credit or placement. The reality, however, is that many schools want to see a 4 or higher, and only 27.4% of students scored in this upper range. 

The AP English Language exam had a mean score of 2.77, and the scores were distributed as follows: (2017 data):

  • 5 - 9.1%
  • 4 - 18.3%
  • 3 - 27.7%
  • 2 - 30.7%
  • 1 - 14.2%

If your test score is on the lower end of the range, realize that you typically don't need to report AP exam scores to colleges. Unlike the SAT and ACT, AP exam scores tend to be self reported and there is no penalty for not including them.

College Credit and Placement for AP English Language and Composition

The table below presents some representative data from a variety of colleges and universities. This information is meant to provide a sampling of the scoring and placement information related to the AP English Language exam. AP placement guidelines change frequently at colleges, so you'll want to check with the Registrar to get the most up-to-date information.

Many colleges and universities have a writing requirement, and a high score on the AP English Language exam will sometimes fulfill that requirement.

Two of the schools in the table—Stanford and Reed—do not give any credit for the exam regardless of your test score.

AP English Language Scores and Placement
CollegeScore NeededPlacement Credit
Georgia Tech4 or 5ENGL 1101 (3 credits)
Grinnell College4 or 54 credits in humanities (not for major credit)
Hamilton College4 or 5Placement into some 200-level courses; 2 credits for score of 5 and B- or higher in a 200-level course
LSU3, 4 or 5ENGL 1001 (3 credits) for a 3; ENGL 1001 and 2025 or 2027 or 2029 or 2123 (6 credits) for a 4; ENGL 1001, 2025 or 2027 or 2029 or 2123, and 2000 (9 credits) for a 5
Mississippi State University3, 4 or 5EN 1103 (3 credits) for a 3; EN 1103 and 1113 (6 credits) for a 4 or 5
Notre Dame4 or 5First Year Composition 13100 (3 credits)
Reed College-No credit for AP English Language
Stanford University-No credit for AP English Language
Truman State University3, 4 or 5ENG 190 Writing as Critical Thinking (3 credits)
UCLA (School of Letters and Science)3, 4 or 58 credits and entry writing requirement for a 3; 8 credits, entry writing requirement and English Comp Writing I requirement for a 4 or 5
Yale University52 credits; ENGL 114a or b, 115a or b, 116b, 117b

A Final Word About AP English Language and Composition

Even if you are applying to a university like Stanford that does not accept the Advanced Placement English Language exam for credit, the course still has value. For one, you'll develop important skills that will help you with writing in all of your college classes. Also, when you apply to colleges, the rigor of your high school classes is an important factor in the admissions equation. Nothing predicts future college success better than earning high grades in challenging college preparatory classes such as AP English Language.

To learn more specific information about the AP English Language and Composition class and exam, be sure to visit the official College Board website.