*Names in bold indicate Presenter
To evaluate the impact of early receipt of college credit, we exploit the previously unavailable data on the underlying AP exam continuous raw scores that map into the integer scores. These additional data lend themselves to a regression discontinuity design whereby we compare nearly identical students, as demonstrated with both McCrary density tests and covariate balancing tests, just above and just below the thresholds of each integer score. The student just above the threshold may receive the associated benefits of receiving a higher AP score, which may include college admission, placement, credit, completion, or even the psychological benefits of positive affirmation.
Using the universe of AP test takers between 2004 and 2009, we start with a meta-analysis of the effects of each potential threshold on each exam. Overall, we find no evidence that attaining a score of a 2 over a 1 confers any advantages in terms of college choice, graduation rates, or time-to-degree. However, for students who receive a 3 over a 2, a score that is typically accompanied by college credit, we find that students are more likely to complete college in four years. This effect is primarily driven by the most popular exams, which include U.S. History, Calculus AB, English Language, and English Literature, in part because most colleges grant credit on these exams. We see similar results on the 3/4 threshold, likely because some colleges require students to earn scores of 4 or 5 to receive credit. There are no discernible effects on the 4/5 threshold.