Advanced Placement

Students may receive college credit if they receive a score of 3 or more on the AP exam taken in May. Students may take an AP exam without enrolling in an AP course.


The number of AP tests taken and passed in Hawaii is steadily increasing.

​​​​​​​​The exam

A program developed by the College Board to provide rigorous academic courses which are offered at high schools, Advanced Placement courses are offered at 40 Hawaii high schools in subjects ranging from Calculus to English Language and Composition, Biology, U.S. History, Studio Art and 20 other subjects. Students may receive college credit if they receive a score of 3+ on the AP exam taken in May. Students may take an AP exam without enrolling in an AP course.

Each of the exams has its own unique requirements; however, almost all of the exams have several things in common:

  • Most exams are two to three hours long. Be prepared to tackle a challenging exam with limited breaks. Eat a good breakfast and, if you are taking more than one exam on the same day, make sure you have lunch and snacks to keep you going.
  • The first part of the exam usually consists of multiple-choice questions. You will choose one of four or five answer choices for each question and use a pencil to bubble in your choice on your AP answer sheet. Your total exam score on the multiple-choice section is based only on the number of questions answered correctly. You won’t receive or lose points for incorrect answers or unanswered questions.
  • The second part of the exam usually consists of free-response questions that require you to generate your own responses. Depending on the exam, your responses could be in the form of an essay, a solution to a problem, a spoken response and more. In most cases, you’ll be writing your response in pen in the free-response exam booklet.

Fast facts about AP Exams:

  • In 2012, 3.7 million exams were taken by more than 2 million students at over 18,000 high schools.
  • The majority of U.S. high schools currently participate in the AP Program.
  • Except for the three Studio Art exams, which are portfolio assessments, AP Exams contain multiple-choice questions and a free-response section.
  • The AP Exam fee is $89 per exam. The College Board provides a $26 or $28 fee reduction for qualifying low-income students, depending on the student’s state. Most states use federal and/or state funds to contribute to the remaining exam fee for low-income students.
  • More than 3,800 colleges and universities annually receive AP Exam scores. Most four-year colleges in the United States provide credit and/or advanced placement for qualifying scores.

Advanced Placement participation

Thanks in part to the Department's Advanced Placement Incentive Program launched in September 2011 — which expanded AP course offerings and AP test preparation and participation in public high schools — our AP test-taking rate and passing rate has increased significantly. Two-year trend (2012-14):

  • Tests taken has increased 12 percent
  • Tests passed has increased 17 percent
School Year
Total Exams Taken
Exams with grades of 3, 4 or 5

Contact Information

Anna Viggiano

Phone: 808-305-9771


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