More students taking, passing AP exams, but concerns linger over access

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Nearly one-third of 2012 high school graduates took Advanced Placement exams and about one in five received a passing score that could lead to college credit. That's according to new figures released Wednesday by the College Board, which runs the AP program.

Both the numbers taking an AP exam and the percentage receiving at least one score of 3 or higher on the five-point-scale tests are up substantially over the last decade.

Altogether, about 954,000 public high school graduates last year took at least one AP exam, with English language and composition the most common. But the College Board says hundreds of thousands of students who stand a good chance to pass the exams still don't have access to them.

That's despite a major push by high schools and states to make the courses, which are supposed to equate to college-level work, more widely available.