AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam Information

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

Ronda, Spain
Ronda, Spain. Chris Bastion / Flickr

Most colleges and universities have a foreign language requirement, and a high score on the AP Spanish Language and Culture exam will sometimes fulfill that requirement. Successful completion of an Advanced Placement Spanish Language class is also a strong credential for demonstrating your language proficiency during the admissions process.

About the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam

The AP Spanish Language and Culture exam takes just over three hours to complete.

The test has listening, reading, and writing components.

Section I of the exam is made up of 65 multiple choice questions and counts for 50% of the total exam score. This section has two parts:

  • Part A ask students to answer questions related to Spanish language sources drawn from literature, ads, maps, tables, letters, and newspapers.
  • Part B of the exam focuses on a combination of listening and reading. Students will answer questions after listening to audio texts drawn from sources such as interviews, podcasts and conversations.

Section II of the exam focuses on writing. Students must perform four tasks:

  • Task 1 asks students to read and respond to an email message.
  • For Task 2, students write a persuasive essay that integrates three source documents (an article, a table or graphic, and an audio text).
  • Task 3 requires students to preview a conversation and then answer five questions related to the conversation.
  • The final task involves presentation speaking in which students compare cultural features of their own community with those found in an area of the Spanish-speaking world.

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

AP Spanish Language and Culture Score Information

In 2017, over 168,000 students took the exam and those test-takers earned a mean score of 3.61.

AP exams are scored using a 5-point scale. The distribution of scores for the AP Spanish Language exam is as follows (2017 data):

  • 5 - 19.5%
  • 4 - 34.8%
  • 3 - 34.2%
  • 2 - 10%
  • 1 - 1.5%

Note that these scores represent the total group of students who took the exam, including students who studied outside of the U.S. and may be regular speakers of Spanish. For the standard group of test-takers (those from the U.S. who learned Spanish in U.S. schools), the mean score was a 3.45, and a smaller percentage of students received a 4 or 5.

College Credit and Course Placement for AP Spanish

Most colleges and universities that have a liberal arts and sciences core curriculum will have a foreign language requirement, and Spanish is the most popular option among U.S. students. 

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 Spanish Language exam. For colleges not listed below and to get the most up-to-date placement data, you'll need to search the school's website or contact the appropriate Registrar's office.

You can see that nearly all colleges provide college credit for a high score on the AP Spanish Language and Culture exam.

Placement, however, varies significantly. At UCLA, a score of 3 or higher fulfills a student's foreign language requirement. Highly selective schools like MIT, Yale, and Grinnell, however, do not award any course placement based on AP Spanish exam scores. 

AP Spanish Language Scores and Placement
CollegeScore NeededPlacement Credit
Grinnell College4 or 54 semester credits; no placement
LSU3, 4 or 5SPAN 1101 and 1102 (8 credits) for a 3; SPAN 1101, 1102, and 2101 (11 credits) for a 4; SPAN 1101, 1102, 2101, and 2102 (14 credits) for a 5
MIT59 general elective credits; no placement
Mississippi State University3, 4 or 5FLS 1113, 1123, 2133 (9 credits) for a 3; FLS 1113,1123, 2133, 2143 (12 credits) for a 4 or 5
Notre Dame1, 2, 3, 4 or 5Spanish 10101 (3 credits) for a 1; Spanish 10101 and 10102 (6 credits) for a 2; Spanish 10102 and 20201 (6 credits) for a 3; Spanish 20201 and 20202 (6 credits) for a 4 or 5
Reed College4 or 51 credit
Stanford University510 quarter units; placement exam required if continuing in Spanish
Truman State University3, 4 or 5SPAN 101 Elementary Spanish I and II (6 credits) for a 3; SPAN 101 Elementary Spanish I and II, and SPAN 201 Intermediate Spanish I (9 credits) for a 4; SPAN 101 Elementary Spanish I and II and SPAN 201 Intermediate Spanish I and II (12 credits) for a 5
UCLA (School of Letters and Science)3, 4 or 58 credits; language requirement fulfilled
Yale University4 or 52 credits

A Final Word About AP Spanish Language and Culture

Whatever score you get on the exam, and whether or not you earn college course credit, the AP Spanish exam can help on the college admissions front. Colleges want to see that applicants have taken the most challenging courses available to them, and AP classes play on important role on that front. Also, completion of an Advanced Placement language class typically means that you have exceeded the minimal foreign language requirement for admission. This shows that you have pushed yourself to learn more than is required of you, a fact that will be a plus when applying to college.

Finally, realize that AP exam scores, unlike the SAT and ACT, are typically self reported and are not a required part of a college application. If you scored a 1 or 2 on the exam, you can simply choose to not report your score on your college application.