AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam Information

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

United States Capitol Building
United States Capitol Building. Randy Pertlet / Flickr

In 2017, 319,612 students took the exam. The mean score was a 2.58, and 157,534 (49.3% of test-takers) got a score of 3 or higher indicating that they might qualify for college credit or placement. A high score on the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam will sometimes fulfill a college's history or social science requirement. Many schools will require a minimum score of a 4 or even a 5 to earn credit.

What the Exam Covers

The AP U.S. Government and Politics exam covers the U.S. Constitution, political beliefs, political parties, interest groups, the media, the institutions of the national government, public policy, and civil rights. If a college offers course credit for the exam, it will typically be in Political Science or American History.

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 U.S. Government and Politics exam. For other schools, you'll need to search the college's website or contact the appropriate Registrar's office to get AP placement information, and even for the school's listed, be sure to check with the institution to get the most recent placement guidelines. AP placement recommendations change frequently.

The distribution of scores for the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam is as follows (2017 data):

  • 5 - 11.1%
  • 4 - 12.4%
  • 3 - 25.7%
  • 2 - 24.6%
  • 1 - 26.1%

To learn more specific information about the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam, be sure to visit the official College Board website.

Scores Needed for Credit

AP U.S. Government and Politics Scores and Placement
College Score Needed Placement Credit
Georgia Tech 4 or 5 POL 1101 (3 semester hours)
Grinnell College 4 or 5 4 semester credits; no placement
LSU 4 or 5 POLI 2051 (3 credits)
MIT 5 9 general elective units
Mississippi State University 4 or 5 PS 1113 (3 credits)
Notre Dame 5 Political Science 10098 (3 credits)
Reed College 4 or 5 1 credit; exam may satisfy prerequisites
Stanford University - no credit or placement for the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam
Truman State University 3, 4 or 5 POL 161 American National Government (3 credits)
UCLA (School of Letters and Science) 3, 4 or 5 4 credits and fulfills American History requirement
Univeristy of Michigan 3, 4 or 5 Political Science 111 (4 credits)
Yale University - no credit or placement for the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam

You'll notice that top public institutions (Michigan, UCLA, Georgia Tech) are more likely to offer placement and accept 3s and 4s on the exam than top private institutions such as MIT, Stanford, and Yale.

Score and Placement Info for Other AP Topics

A Final Word About AP Classes

Although the Advanced Placement US Government and Politics exam isn't accepted for credit or placement by all colleges and universities, the course has other value. Most significantly, when you're applying to colleges the rigor of your high school curriculum will often be the most important factor considered in an admissions decision. Colleges want to see that you have taken the most challenging courses available to you, and Advanced Placement courses play an important role in this piece of the admissions equation. Also, the knowledge you gain from the US Government and Politics class will provide you with valuable information that can help in college classes in fields such as history, political science, social science, government, and literature.