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 2016, over 296,000 students took the exam. The mean score was a 2.65, and 150,313 (50.8% 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.

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.

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

The distribution of scores for the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam is as follows (2016 data):

  • 5 - 12.3%
  • 4 - 13.5%
  • 3 - 24.9%
  • 2 - 24.0%
  • 1 - 25.2%

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

AP U.S. Government and Politics Scores and Placement
CollegeScore NeededPlacement Credit
Georgia Tech4 or 5POL 1101 (3 semester hours)
Grinnell College4 or 54 semester credits; no placement
LSU4 or 5POLI 2051 (3 credits)
MIT59 general elective units
Mississippi State University4 or 5PS 1113 (3 credits)
Notre Dame5Political Science 10098 (3 credits)
Reed College4 or 51 credit; exam may satisfy prerequisites
Stanford University-no credit or placement for the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam
Truman State University3, 4 or 5POL 161 American National Government (3 credits)
UCLA (School of Letters and Science)3, 4 or 54 credits and fulfills American History requirement
Univeristy of Michigan3, 4 or 5Political 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: 

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

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.

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Grove, Allen. "AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam Information." ThoughtCo, Jan. 11, 2017, thoughtco.com/ap-us-government-and-politics-score-information-786957. Grove, Allen. (2017, January 11). AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam Information. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ap-us-government-and-politics-score-information-786957 Grove, Allen. "AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam Information." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ap-us-government-and-politics-score-information-786957 (accessed March 23, 2018).