(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – Kentucky students who took rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) tests in May scored higher according to data released from the College Board. In fact, the number of students scoring at the top two levels is up between 4 and 5 percent from last year.

However, for the first time in recent years, both the number of test-takers and the number of AP tests given is down. It is thought that may be due to the fee charged for the test.

All Kentucky Public High School Students Taking AP Exams, 2016

Number of Test-TakersNumber of TestsNumber of Scores 3-5


Advanced Placement courses are available in more than 35 subjects, ranging from high-level math and science to fine arts. Students may opt to take a standardized end-of-course exam at the conclusion of each course and if they score well enough on it, they may earn college credit. Although it varies from school to school, most colleges require a minimum qualifying score of 3 on an AP exam to earn college credit for the course.

It is estimated that taking AP courses and earning a qualifying score saves Kentucky students more than $23 million a year in college costs. The most widely given tests in Kentucky in the 2015-16 school year were in English Language and Composition, U. S. History and English Literature and Composition.

“While I’m happy to see the number of qualifying scores increase, I’m disappointed that we saw a drop in the number of students choosing to take AP exams,” said Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt. “We have to do a better job of ensuring all students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement courses, and the opportunity to take the tests that could earn them college credit.”

Last year, the Kentucky Department of Education’s Advanced Placement for All project allowed low income students to take AP exams for free. The project is supported through a grant from the United States Department of Education (USED) and a partial fee waiver by the College Board. Last year 7,466 students, took advantage of fee waivers or reductions. Many more were eligible.

“I’m concerned that a lot more students who could have taken exams didn’t,” Pruitt said. “We need high school AP teachers and counselors to get the word out about this program. The inability to pay for an AP exam should never be a barrier for a student wanting to take an AP exam.”


Number of Public School Students Taking One or More AP Exams, By Race/Ethnicity, All Kentucky Public High Schools*

Number of test-takersPercentage of total
Number of tests
Number of tests scoring 3 or higher
American Indian890.3%12440
Pacific Islander190.1%3715
2 or more races1,2254.0%1,967879
No Response5751.9%785290
*Beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, reporting of race/ethnicity was updated to reflect the United States Department of Education guidelines. Due to these changes, it is not possible to make direct comparisons of student group populations in prior years. Race/ethnicity information is self-reported by students.


According to the College Board, the number of traditionally underrepresented minority students in Kentucky taking an AP exam increased 38 percent in the last year, in part thanks to AdvanceKentucky.

The AdvanceKentucky initiative, a partnership of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation and the Kentucky Department of Education, is designed to expand access to, as well as participation and success in Advanced Placement classes, especially among those who are traditionally underrepresented, including minority and low income students. AdvanceKentucky has served about 95,000 students in 109 Kentucky public high schools since its inception in 2008.

The data shows significantly more students who attend AdvanceKentucky schools earn qualifying scores on AP exams compared to students in other schools. Qualifying scores on math, science and English exams were up 77 percent among schools in the newest AdvanceKentucky cohort, consistent with every cohort in the first year of participation in open enrollment with AdvanceKentucky. Independent longitudinal research shows that these students earn significantly higher ACT scores, go to college at higher rates, enroll in fewer remedial classes, earn higher GPAs in college and graduate in a timelier manner.

The College Board also released results from the SAT college-entrance exam, the PSAT 10 and the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

The PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 are the same assessment offered at different times of year. The standardized test provides firsthand practice for the SAT test and is designed to measure the essential knowledge and skills for college and career readiness and success, as shown by research. The PSAT 10 is typically taken by 10th graders, and PSAT/NMSQT is typically taken by 10th and 11th graders.

Potential scores on each section of the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT – Math and Evidence-based Reading and Writing (ERW) – range from 160 to 760.


Kentucky Public High School Students Taking the PSAT 10 or PSAT/NMSQT*

Number of
Total Mean ScoreERW
Mean Score
Mean Score
* The College Board redesigned the PSST/NMSQT in October 2015 and introduced the PSAT 10 in February 2016. Statistical information for the two assessments are combined and reported by grade level. Students are counted once per grade and only their latest scores are included. Since this is the first year for the redesigned test, mean score trend data is not reported.


The average scores of Kentucky public high school students who took the SAT in 2016 were up in each area by at least a dozen points. The SAT assesses student reasoning based on knowledge and skills developed by the students in their course work. It is scored on a scale of 200-800 and is typically taken by high school juniors and seniors. The test is administered several times a year.

Kentucky Public High School Students' Mean Scores on the SAT*

Critical ReadingMathWriting
*Statistical information is based on a year’s graduating seniors and may include exams taken at any time during each student’s high school career, through the January 2016 administration. The College Board redesigned the SAT test this year and first administered it in March 2016. This report includes only those students who took the SAT prior to that date. Students are counted only once, no matter how often they tested, and only their latest scores are included in this report.


About 900 students, approximately 2 percent of Kentucky public school graduates, took the SAT in 2016. Kentucky colleges and universities typically use the ACT as an admission requirement, which is reflected in the small percentage of students who take the SAT.