More students taking, passing Advanced Placement exams

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Waiakea High School students gather after school near the front of the campus Tuesday afternoon.

HILO — The number of Hawaii students taking and passing Advanced Placement exams continues to increase throughout the state.

The state Department of Education announced last week that it saw across-the-board gains in the number of students taking exams, the number of exams taken and the number of scores of 3, 4 or 5, in a recent report. That’s a trend the Big Island also is seeing, according to DOE statistics.


The AP program provides students the chance to take college-level courses while still in high school, and to earn college credit, advanced placement in college or both, according to the DOE.

Each AP test is graded on a five-point scale, with 5 being the highest score.

Statewide, there were 6,974 exam-takers in the 2017-18 school year compared to 6,599 in 2016-17, an increase of 5.7 percent; and 10,456 exams taken in 2017-18 compared to 9,903 the previous year, a increase of 5.6 percent.

The number of students scoring a 3, 4 or 5 on the exams totaled 4,545 in the last school year and 4,178 in the year prior, an increase of 8.8 percent.

On the Big Island, 810 students took 1,293 exams, and there were 468 tests with scores of 3 or higher in the 2017-18 school year compared to 720 test-takers, 1,134 exams taken and 420 scores of 3 or higher in the 2016-17 school year.

Waiakea High School had 26 AP scholars, the most of any school on the island, followed by Kealakehe High School with 24. AP scholars are students who received scores of 3 or higher on three or more exams.

According to the DOE, the number of AP tests taken by Hawaii public school students has increased by 57 percent since 2012, and the number of passing scores increased by 75 percent.

Email Stephanie Salmons at

Big Island by the numbers

Hilo High School: scholar, 4; scholar with honor, 1; scholar with distinction, 1

Honokaa High School: scholar, 8

Ka‘u High School: scholar, 1

Keaau High School: scholar, 2

Kealakehe High School: scholar, 24; scholar with honor, 4; scholar with distinction, 3; national AP scholar, 1

Kohala High School: scholar, 2

Konawaena High School: scholar, 5; scholar with honor, 1; scholar with distinction, 1.

Waiakea High School: scholar, 26; scholar with honor, 8; scholar with distinction, 5; National AP Scholar, 1; AP Seminar and Research Certificate, 6; AP Capstone Diploma, 5.

Scholars with honor — students who earn an average score of 3.25 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on four or more tests.

Scholars with distinction — students who have an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP tests taken and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of those exams.

National AP scholar — students who earn an average score of at least 4 on all AP tests taken and scores 4 or higher on eight or more of the exams.


Students with scores of 3 or higher in AP seminar and AP research and on four additional AP tests receive the AP Capstone Diploma, while students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research but not on four additional exams receive the AP seminar and research certificate.

Email Stephanie Salmons at

  1. Rock108 November 5, 2018 7:05 pm

    Good job, students! We are all proud.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email