Whites Twice as Likely as Blacks to Receive Qualifying Grades on Advanced Placement Tests

In 2007, of the 1,198,053 AP exams taken by white students, a qualifying grade of 3 or above was achieved on 62 percent of the tests. This is equivalent to receiving a grade of C or above in a college-level course. Blacks received qualifying grades of 3 or above on only 25.4 percent of the AP exams that they took. Thus, whites were more than twice as likely as blacks to receive a qualifying grade. Over the past three years, as the number of black test takers increased, the percentage of all black test takers receiving qualifying grades dropped from 29.2 percent to 25.4 percent.

At the very highest level of AP test scores, the black-white scoring gap is even greater. Some 13.2 percent of white test takers received a score of 5, equivalent to a college grade of A. Only 2.6 percent of black test takers received a score of 5. Blacks took 5.8 percent of all AP tests in 2007 but they made up only 2.6 percent of all students who became eligible for college credit and only 1.2 percent of all students with the highest score of 5.

Nationwide, the mean AP score for white students was 2.95; for blacks it was 1.91. This means that the average black score is a full letter grade below the average white score. This gap has widened slightly in the last several years.